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A ROMAN MAN OF LETTERS 

GAIUS ASINIUS POLLIO 



DISSERTATION 

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements 

for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 

the Faculty of Political Science 

of Columbia University 



BY 

ELIZABETH DENNY PIERCE. A.B.. A.M. 

NEW YORK. 1922 



A ROMAN MAN OF LETTERS 

GAIUS ASINIUS POLLIO 



DISSERTATION 

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements 

for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 

the Faculty of Political Science 

of Columbia University 



BY 
ELIZABETH DENNY PIERCE. A.B.. A.M. 

NEW YORK. 1922 



CHAPTER I. Early Life. 
75—54 B. C. 

Gaius Asinius Pollio belonged to the gens of the Asinii, one 
of the old Italian families, who, although they had been granted 
Roman citizenship at the close of the Social War in 89 B. C/'^ 
had had no part in the public life at Rome. It was not until the 
confusion and civil struggles of the later years of the Republic 
made it possible for new men to enter the city's politics that 
Pollio and others from the Italian towns could become promi- 
nent^^\ The Asinii came from Teate^^^ (modem Chiete) in the 
territory of the Man-ucini who held a narrow strip of land run- 
ning westward from the Adriatic coast along the river Atemus 
and almost due east of Rome. The Marrucinian territory, to- 
gether with that of their neighbors the Vestini and Frentani 
had been laid waste by Hannibal when he marched through this 
part of Italy after the Battle of Lake Trasimene in 217 B. C.^*^ 
The Asinii apparently took a prominent part in the Marrucinian 
contingents that aided Rome in this second Punic War''^ for 
Silius Italicus describes a very picturesque incident of the battle 
of Zama in 204 B. C.^^^ where Herius, an ancestor of Pollio, 
meets Hannibal himself in mortal combat. Although Herius 
struggled desperately to defend himself with his spear and wound 
the Carthaginian commander, he was killed by Hannibal's sword 
thrust. Silius Italicus undoubtedly manufactured many of the 
details of this incident; yet the fact that the name of Herius 
was known to a writer who lived two hundred and fifty years 
later would indicate that he had been a soldier of some import- 
er Lex Plautia Papiria 89 B. C. 

(2) Tac, Ann., 6-7; Veil., II, 128. 

(3) Sil. Ital., Punica, XVII, 453-458. 

(4) Livy, XXII, 9. 

(5) Polybius, II, 24. 

(6) Sil. Ital., Punica, XVII, 453-458: 
Continuo infesta portantem cuspide vulnus 
Impedit antevolans Herium; cui nobile nomcn 
Marrucina domus, clarumque Teate ferebat. 
Atque illi magnum nitenti, et laudibus hostis 
Adrecto, capuli ad fincm manus ilia fodit, 



45^091 



ance. Another Herius Asinius was one of the chief commanders 
of the allied forces of the Italians in the Social War/^^ and fell 
in the battle in which Marius and Sulla defeated the Marsians 
in 90 B. C/^^ As PoUio belonged to the second generation 
after this and further gave the name of Herius to one of his 
sons, it is quite possible that Herius Asinius was his grandfather. 

The name of Pollio's father is given as Gnaeus Asinius in the 
inscriptions recording the triumph of his son over the Parthini^^\ 
This praenomen was doubtless handed down, according to 
custom, to his eldest son who may have been the Marrucinus 
Asinius immortalized in the poem of Catullus for stealing nap- 
kins at a dinner party, since his description in this poem would 
lead us to regard him as older than his brother Gaius who was 
called a puer. Catullus no doubt called the elder brother Mar- 
rucinus in order to emphasize the fact that he came from the 
country and was not familiar with the usage of polite society, 
for in the following lines he contrasts him with Gaius, who he 
says is a youth well educated in matters of taste and be- 
haviour^^°\ The name Pollio is probably allied with Paullus 
through a common earlier form^^^^ and was a popular cognomen 
among the Latin and Oscan-Umbrian peoples although it does 
not occur with any frequency at Rome until after the time of 
Asinius Pollio. 

The date of Pollio's birth may be fixed as 75 B. C. by com- 
paring the statement of Jerome that Gaius Asinius Pollio died 



(7) Veil., II, 16. See also Appian, B. C, I, 40; Eut., V, 3. 

(8) Livy, Per., LXXIII. 

(9) C. I. L., 12, p. 50, Acta Triumphalia Capitolina: 
Cn. Domitio M. f. Cal[vino II], C. Asinius Cn. f. 
Pollion[e cos.] 

(10) Catullus, 12, 1-9. 
Marrucine Asini, manu sinistra 
Non belle uteris in ioco atque vino: 
Tollis lintea neglegentiorum, 

Hoc salsum esse putas? Fugit te, inepte! 
Quamvis sordida res et invenusta est. 
Non credis mihi? Crede PoUioni 
Fratri, qui tua furta vel talento 
Mutari velit; est enim leporum 
Disertus puer ac facetiarum. 

Voss (Catullus a. I.) suggests that Catullus used the name Mar- 
rucinus in the poem to mark the contrast between Asinius and the 
Marrucini whom Cicero {pro Clu. 69, 197) calls nobilissimi, 

(11) Lindsay, Lat. Lang., p. 112. 

4 



in his eightieth year at his Tusculan villa in 4 A. D/'"' with 
that of Tacitus in which he says that Pollio, although only in 
his twenty-second year conducted the prosecution of C. Cato ^^^\ 
This case was tried in 54 B. C/^"*^ Gains would, therefore, be a 
youth of sixteen at the time" Catullus wrote his poem^^^^ which 
refers to him in terms of sufficient intimacy as to lead us to the 
conclusion that Pollio was then living in Rome where, like Ovid, 
Propertius and Horace, he had been sent to complete his educa- 
tion. 

The first public appearance of Pollio was in 54 B. C. when 
at the age of twenty-two he prosecuted C. Porcius Cato for 
illegal actions during the latter's tribuneship in 56^^^\ Pollio 
may have undertaken this difficult prosecution as his first public 
case in order to attract attention since (at that time) he had no 
political connections at Rome. This had been the method used 
by Calvus, Caesar and C. Cato to bring themselves before the 
public^^'^\ The latter, following the example of his great rela- 
tive, Marcus Cato Uticensis, tried to interfere with the plans of 
the recently formed triumvirate by prosecuting for bribery in 
59 B. C, Aulus Gabinius^^^\ one of the triumvirs' henchmen 
and a candidate for the consulship^^^\ When the inaction of 
the praetors prevented the progress of the prosecution, Cato 
denounced Pompey from the rostra in a public meeting, calling 
him an "unofficial dictator. "^^°^ Between this time and his 
tribunate in 56 B. C, Cato apparently changed sides, for in 
Cicero's letters of this year he is mentioned as defending Pom- 
pey 's interests in the Senate, not only trying to push through, 
the settlement of the Campanian land dispute'"'^ in favor of 
Pompey 's veterans but also urging his appointment as Roman 



(12) Hieronymus, Chron. ad an. Abr., 2020. 

(13) Tac, Dial, de Or., 34. 

(14) Asconius, in Scaurianam, 16. 

(15) Cat., 12,8-9 cited above. 60/59 B. C. For date of poem see 
Schwabe, QuaesU. Catull., p. 3(X). 

(16) Tac., Dial., 34, 

(17) Quint., XII, 6, 1: Calvus, Caesar, Pollio multum ante quaestoriam 
omnes aetatem gravissima iudicia susceperint. 

See Abbott, Roman Political Institutions, 11173; minimum age 
for the quaestorship was thirty-one years at this time. 

(18) Cic, adQ. Fr., I, 2.15. 

(19) App., II, 14. 

(20) Cic, adQ. Fr., I, 2.15. 

(21) Cic., adQ. Fr., II, 1.2. 



representative with two lictors, to aid in restoring Ptolemy 
Auletes to his kingdom^^^\ The Senate opposed this measure 
as they feared it would give Pompey still greater power and they 
therefore appointed Cornelius Lentulus Spinther instead ^^^^ 

Cato further used his power as tribune to delay the meeting 
of the comitia in order that the elections might not be held that 
year since the acting consuls Cn. Cornelius Lentulus Marcellinus 
and L. Marcius Philippus were hostile to the plan of the trium- 
virs to cause Crassus and Pompey to be elected consuls for the 
year 55 B. C/^*^ Although Cicero had been won over and his 
opposition removed, yet Marcellinus and L. Domitius Aheno- 
barbus, a bitter enemy of Caesar, had influence enough to pre- 
vent the re-election of Pompey and Crassus if the voting were 
done in the usual way. Crassus therefore arranged with C. 
Cato and his colleague Sufenas to delay the elections^^^^ by 
introducing a measure in the comitia which involved a great 
deal of discussion and thus postponed the voting. 

As a result, the year 55 began without consuls or praetors 
and the consular election was held at the end of January by an 
interrex. L. Domitius was the only rival who persisted in his 
candidature, and as he was driven ofif by armed violence, 
Pompey and Crassus became consuls. 

Cato in carrying out his part in the plan violated the Lex 
lunia Licinia which provided that a bill could not be brought 
before the comitia until it had been on public view in the aerari- 
um and seventeen days' notice given of its proposal ^^^\ The 
Lex Aelia Fufia was also violated, for this enacted that the comi- 
tia for elections must be finished before any legislative pro- 
posals could be considered ^^''\ Cato was, therefore, prosecuted 
by Pollio for the violation of these laws in 54 B. C. when Pompey 
and Crassus had finished their year of office and were out of the 
city and L. Domitius Ahenobarbus was one of the consuls. 
Cato was successfully defended by C. Licinius Calvus and M. 
Aemilius Scaurus, friends of Pompey and Crassus^^^\ Sufenas 



(22) Cic, fani., I, 2A. 

(23) Dio, XXXIX, 16. 

(24) Suet., Div. lul., 24; App., II, 17; Plut., Crassus,'U. 

(25) Livy, Per., 105. 

(26) Cic, ad Att., IV, 16.5; ed. Tyrrell, P, p. 414. 

(27) Cic, ad Att., IV, 16.5; Tyrrell, P, p. 409. 

(28) Sen., Contr., VII, 4, 7; Asconius in Cic, pro Scauro. 



was also tried on the same charges and was acquitted. The 
case was evidently made notorious through the bribery and 
undue influence exerted by Pompey to free his two supporters 
since Cicero wrote to Atticus on the 27th of July as follows: 
"On the fourth of July, Sufenas and Cato were acquitted . . . 
From which we have learnt that our treble-distilled Areopagites 
care not a rush for bribery, elections, interregnum, lese-majeste, 
or in fact, for the state generally "'^^\ In a previous letter 
written before Cato had been acquitted, Cicero had predicted 
that he would not be convicted and that his acquittal would 
be "not so much to the satisfaction of his defenders as of his 
accusers" ^^^\ 

We have no evidence to prove that Pollio was bribed not 
to press the prosecution, a thing which might very well have 
happened in those days of widespread corruption of juries and 
courts. From other information in regard to Asinius's character 
it does not seem likely. The great difference between the legal 
talent employed by the prosecution and the defense may have 
very easily determined the outcome of the case since Pollio 
was still a youth without experience while Calvus was six years 
older and had the reputation of being a remarkable forensic 
speaker, almost equal to Cicero ^^^\ Cato apparently was not 
depending entirely on the oratorical powers of his defender 
since Seneca in his Controversiae tells how Pollio was surrounded 
in the forum by an armed band of Cato's followers who would 
certainly have injured him if Calvus had not ordered them 
off^^^\ Although there was no doubt of Cato's guilt, the prose- 
cution was brought because of party politics rather than with 
any great desire for reform. Both sides were resorting to 
illegal methods to gain their ends and the courts were busy with 
trials resulting from corruption at elections, thus providing 
excellent opportunities for ambitious young men. 



(29) Cic, ad Alt., IV, 15.4. 

(30) Cic, ad Alt., IV, 16.5. 

(31) Calvus was born in B. C. 82; Sen., Contr., VII, 4, G. The oration 
of Calvus for Cato was written down but is now lost. 

(32) Sen., Contr., VII, 4, 7. 



CHAPTER II. Relations with Julius Caesar. 

54—44 B. C. 

Asinius Pollio, both at the time of the trial of Cato and in 
the letters written to Cicero after Julius Caesar's death^^^\ 
showed that he was at heart a Republican and on the side of 
the Senate against any usurpers of their power. But when in 
53 B. C. he saw Pompey allied with the Senate, he came to the 
conclusion that he would join Caesar rather than go to the other 
"camp" in which he was certain he would not be safe from the 
plots of his personal enemy^^^\ since, as he himself says, it was 
impossible for him to remain neutral, because he had bitter 
enemies on both sides. There is no means of deciding whether 
the reference here is to C. Cato or to some other follower of 
Pompey but Pollio seems to have realized that there was no 
longer any hope of a Republic and since the choice lay between 
Caesar or Pompey as dictator, he preferred to secure his own 
safety and ally himself with the former. Therefore, in Janu- 
ary, 49 B. C, we find Asinius among the men most closely 
associated with Julius Caesar at the historic crossing of the 
Rubicon. For when Caesar found that Pompey and the Senate 
would not make any satisfactory settlement with him in regard 
to his candidature for the consulship for 48 B. C. he quietly 
went on gathering friends and adherents about his camp in 
Gaul until it became a political centre of scarcely less impor- 
tance than Rome. Pollio may have joined this group in 53 

B. C. soon after the trial of Cato, or he may have waited in 
Rome until the actual break came in 50 B. C. In this year 

C. Curio, a tribune, having been won over to the Caesarian 



(33) Cic.,/am., X, 31; 32; 33. 

(34) Pollio, ap. Cic, fam., X, 31. 2 and 3: Cum vero non liceret niihi 
nuUius partis esse, quia utrubique magnos inimicos habebam, ea 
castra fugi, in quibus plane tutum me ab insidiis inimici sciebam non 
futurum; compulsus eo quo minime volebam, ne in extremis essem, 

plane pericula non dubitanter adii Ita, si id agitur, ut 

rursus in potestate omnia unius sint, quicumque is est, ei me profi- 
teer inimicum; nee periculum est ullum, quod pro libertate aut 
refugiam aut deprecer. 

8 



party by the settlement of his immense debts, vetoed every 
proposal brought up in the Senate for Caesar's recall^*^^^ and 
when his tribuneship expired in December, went directly to 
Caesar at Ravenna and urged him to march at once on Rome^^^\ 
Curio went back again to the capital as Caesar's emissary and 
at the meeting of the Senate on Januar\' 1, 49 B. C, presented 
the proposal that both Caesar and Pompey hand over their 
provinces to their successors and dismiss their armies^'^'\ The 
Senate not only rejected this proposal but expelled the tri- 
bunes, M. Antonius and Q. Cassius, who had vetoed the Senate's 
decree ordering Caesar to give up his province and army^"^\ 
The tribunes then fled to Ariminum on their way to join Caesar 
at Ravenna. 

When this news reached Caesar he decided to cross the 
Rubicon, and on January' 11th passed from his province into 
Italy with one legion, having summoned the others from their 
winter quarters and ordered them to follow him^^^\ In his 
account, Caesar does not mention crossing the boundary' river 
but merely states that he proceeded to Ariminum. In all the 
later accounts, however, great emphasis was laid on this fact 
and dramatic stories are related of Caesar's hesitating on the 
brink of the river and discussing with his friends the evils and 
blessings that will come to him and to all mankind if he takes 
the step. Finally, with the words, "the die is cast", he crossed 
the river -^^^ The three historians^^'^ are almost identical in 
details and even in words and are so explicit in their descrip- 
tion of the incident that the}^ must have used as their source 
the account of an eye-witness. Plutarch adds the fact that 
Asinius Pollio was one of the friends with Caesar on this occa- 
sion ^'*~\ As he does not mention any other officers by name, 
Pollio's prominence in this account may be due to the fact that 
Plutarch drew his version of the story from the histories of 



(35) Suet., Div. lul., 29; App., B. C, II, 20. 

(36) App., B. C, II, 31. 

(37) App., B. C, II, 32. 

(38) Cacs., B. C, I, 5; App., B. C, II, 33. 

(39) Caes., B. C, I, 8. 

(40) App., B. C, II, 35; Plut., Caes., 31; Suet., Div. Jul., 32. 

(41) Appian, Plutarch and Suetonius. 

(42) Plut., Cue's., 31. 



Asinius, which we know he used as a source for many parts of 
his Lives of Caesar and Pompey^*^\ 

Although we thus know of Pollio's presence in Caesar's 
army, it is impossible to ascertain the nature of the position 
Asinius held, but as Caesar never mentions him by name he 
doubtless was one of a group of minor legati whom Caesar kept 
with him more for their social and literary companionship than 
for any great military qualifications. 

As Caesar moved southward against Pompey, the towns 
surrendered one after the other and the Pompeian garrisons 
generally joined the advancing army. By the time Caesar 
reached Brundisium, Pompey had given up all idea of resisting 
him in Italy and was preparing to cross to Epirus. Caesar was 
unable to prevent this, and since he had no ships with which 
to pursue Pompey, he went to Rome for a few days and thence 
hurried to Spain to destroy the Pompeian army there, mean- 
while sending legati to secure Sicily, Sardinia and Africa, the 
chief centres of the com supply ^'**\ Quintus Valerius with his 
division of Caesar's army soon gained possession of Sardinia, 
while Sicily was handed over by Marcus Cato who was in 
charge of the Pompeian forces. 

The sources do not agree in regard to Caesar's representa- 
tive in Sicily, for while Appian {B. C, II, 40) and Plutarch 
{Cato Minor, 33) say that it was Pollio, Caesar himself says 
that he sent "Curio as propraetor into Sicily with two legions, 
ordering him to take his army across to Africa as soon as he 
had subdued Sicily" ^*^\ The most natural solution of the 
question is that Curio was sent to Sicily, in command of the 
legions and Pollio was one of his officers, perhaps a legatus 
legionis. This is borne out by the fact that they filled similar 
positions a few months later in Africa, whither they went 
directly from Sicily ^*^\ and as Curio was the older and more 
influential man, he would be more likely to hold the com- 
mand ^'^'^^ Pollio may have been sent ahead with a part of the 

(43) CJ. infra, p. 52. 

(44) Caes., B. C, I, 15-30; App., B. C, II, 38-41; Suet., Div. lul, 34. 

(45) Caes., B. C, I, 30. 

(46) App., B. C, II, 44-46. 

(47) Curio was born about 84 B. C. He had given valuable support to 
Caesar for the last year or more before this appointment which was 
probably therefore a reward for his services. 

See Abbott, The Common People of Ancient Rome, p. 234 et seq. 

10 



forces since Plutarch {Cato Minor, 53) says, "understanding 
that Asinius PoUio was arrived at Messana, with forces from 
the enemy, Cato sent to him, to know the reason of his coming 

thither: As for Asinius, he (Cato) said, he could 

drive him out of Sicily, but as there were larger forces coming 
to the assistance of Asinius he would not engage the island in a 
war." It might be inferred from this that Cato had already 
yielded the island to Pollio before Curio and the rest of the 
army arrived. The mistake of Appian and Plutarch may have 
come from using Pollio's histories or a Greek translation of 
them in which they learned that he was in Sicily at that time. 
If the name of the commander was not given, they may easily 
have jumped to the conclusion that Pollio was in charge of the 
entire expedition. Appian {B. C, II, 41) later says that after 
Caesar went to Rome, in assigning his lieutenants to different 
provinces, "Outside of Italy he chose Curio to take command of 
Sicily in place of Cato and Quintus Valerius for Sardinia", 
probably failing to connect this appointment with the earlier 
one. From these statements and others made by Cicero and 
Caesar ^■*^\ we are led to the conclusion that Curio must have 
had the supreme command of Caesar's forces in Sicily and 
although Pollio was present at the time, he occupied a subordi- 
nate position, perhaps as Aulard suggests, in charge of the 
Mamicinian cohorts mentioned in Caesar (B. C, II, 34)^'*^\ 

In the autumn of 49, after Sicily had been won over to the 
cause of Caesar, Pollio crossed to Africa with Curio and his 
army and landed near Utica where they found Attius Varus in 
command of the Pompeian forces, supported by Juba and his 
Numidian calvalry^^"\ The ensuing campaign seems to have 
been marked by disaster from the very beginning, due in great 
part to the ignorance and mistakes of Curio who was more 
skilled in political manoeuvres than in military tactics. The 
Caesarians, enfeebled by the climate and tired out by frequent 
skirmishes with the enemy, were finally routed in a decisive 
battle at the river Bagradas. 

Pollio was evidently still in charge of a part of the troops 



(48) Cic, ad AtL, X, 16; Caes., B. C, II, 28, 32. 

(49) Aulard, F. A., de Caii Asinii Pollionis vita et scriptis, p. 1 1, n. 1. 

(50) Caes., B. C, II, 23-24; App., B. C, II, 44-45. 



11 



for "at the beginning of the trouble he retreated with a small 
force to the camp at Utica lest Varus should make an attack 
upon it^^^^". Moreover, according to Appian, it was chiefly- 
through the efforts of Asinius that even a few of the Roman 
forces were saved, for as soon as news of the disaster reached 
Utica, the Roman admiral sailed away without waiting for the 
land forces. But Pollio rowed out to some merchant ships, 
asked them to come closer in shore and take the remnant of 
the army on board; in this way a small number of the soldiers 
escaped ^^^\ 

Caesar, in writing of these events, makes no mention of 
Pollio by name and further says that Marcius Rufus, the quaes- 
tor, who had been left in charge of the camp by Curio, ordered 
the captains of the ships to take the soldiers aboard^^^\ Both 
accounts agree that in the general terror and confusion, most 
of the ships, disregarding this order, sailed away without wait- 
ing for the troops. A few captains were prevailed upon either 
by persuasion or money to save some of the soldiers, and Pollio 
may have been instrumental in securing these ships; but his 
exploit was scarcely great enough to demand recognition in 
Caesar's history of the war. He was merely one of the minor 
legati who, either through his own initiative or acting under 
Rufus 's orders, was able to save himself and a few others from 
the general rout. From the point of view of Asinius himself, 
it did seem important enough to be included in his own his- 
tories of the civil war, and here Appian may have found the 
incident and included it in his account of the battle. 

Aulard (pp. 11-12) suggests that the omission of Pollio's 
name from Caesar's detailed account of affairs in Sicily and 
Africa was intentional and was due to some misunderstanding 
between the two. This hypothesis seems hardly necessary, 
since it is evident from the sources that Asinius occupied a 
subordinate position, and Caesar could scarcely be expected to 
give the names of all his officers. Pollio may have been sent 
back to Utica to warn Rufus to be ready for flight, and in the 
midst of the confusion made himself useful in getting some of 
the soldiers aboard the ships. 

(51) App., B. C, II, 46. 

(52) App., B. C, II, 46. 

(53) Caes., B. C, II, 43. 

12 



Of Pollio's movements for the next few months nothing is 
known — whether he returned to Italy to join Caesar or went 
at once to Illyricum. However, by early June, 48, he was with 
Caesar's army in Thessaly, since both Plutarch and Appian 
mention his presence at the battle of Pharsalia^^"*\ Asinius, 
who accompanied Caesar while they looked over the battlefield 
at the close of the struggle, noted down Caesar's saying about 
his enemies which is quoted in Suetonius and Plutarch — "They 
would have it so. Even I, Gaius Caesar, after so many great 
deeds, should have been found guilty, if I had not turned to 
my army for help." Plutarch adds Pollio's statement that he 
himself took these words down in Greek although Caesar had 
spoken them in Latin ^^^\ 

After the battle of Pharsalia, Pollio returned to Rome and 
was elected tribune, an office of considerable importance during 
the absence of the dictator, since the tribunes and Mark An- 
tony, Caesar's Master of Horse, were the only influential men 
in Rome^''^\ Asinius with his colleague Trebellius opposed the 
schemes of Publius Cornelius Dolabella for cancelling debts, 
but their final success was mainly due to Antony who came 
to their aid and forced Dolabella to abandon his plans^^^. 
Pollio may have opposed Dolabella because as a conser\'ative 
he objected to the extremes and excesses on which the "new 
Clodius" seemed bent, and moreover, he may have joined with 
Trebellius in an attempt to gain favor with Caesar, who was 
known to be opposed to the measure ^^^\ We have no indica- 
tion of Pollio's real motives; Trebellius after Caesar's death 
brought forward this same law for cancelling debts which he 
had so vehemently opposed a few years earlier. Cicero asserts 
that it was because Trebellius was himself so overburdened with 
debts, and he taunts him with being a "turncoat. "^""^^ Pollio's 
own opposition may have been sincere, but the subsequent 



(54) Plut., Pomp., 72; App., B. C, II, 82. 

(55) Suet., Divus Julius, 30: Quod probabilius facit Asinius Pollio, Phar- 
salica acie caesos profligatosque advcrsarios prospicicntem hacc cum 
ad verbum dixisse refcrens: 'Hoc volucrunt; tantis rebus gcstis Gaius 
Caesar condemnatus essem, nisi ab exercitu auxilium petisscm.'; 
Plutarch, Caesar, 46. 

(56) Plut., Ant., 8-9. 

(57) Plut., Ant., 9. 

(58) Caes., B. C, III, 1; III, 20; Suet., Div. lul., 42. 

(59) Cic, Phil, VI, 4. 

13 



action of his colleague suggests that policy rather than con- 
viction may have been his motive as well. 

At the opening of the next year (46 B. C), Pollio was once 
again in Africa, this time with Caesar himself. In the course 
of the war there, the cavalry, who had dismounted, were taken 
unawares by the enemy and "had not Caesar himself and 
Asinius Pollio come to their assistance and put a stop to their 
flight, the war had been at an end^®°\" This statement is 
perhaps an exaggeration of the value of Pollio's participation, 
but undoubtedly the cavalry were important factors in a cam- 
paign against the Numidian horsemen. 

There is no mention of Pollio's presence either at the battle 
of Thapsus, which took place on April 4th, or at the capture of 
Utica which followed soon after ^^^\ although it is likely that 
he was with Caesar all through the campaign, for in the early 
part of April, Cicero wrote that it was rumored in Rome that 
Pollio had been captured by the enemy and the ships destroyed 
at Utica by a storm ^^^\ 

In November of 46, Pollio accompanied Caesar to Spain 
where war was being waged against Pompey's two sons, Gnaeus 
and Sextus, aided by their father's former generals, Labienus 
and Varus who had escaped from Africa. The decisive battle 
was fought at Munda in March 45, and of the Pompeian leaders 
only Sextus Pompey survived ^^^\ The account of this war as 
given in the Bellum Hispaniense must have been written either 
by a man who was too great an admirer of Caesar to give a true 
account of this bitter struggle, or else one whose inferior position 
prevented his grasping the significance of the movements. For 
the accounts in all the other sources^^'^^ show that this was the 
most difficult of all Caesar's campaigns, and in both Plutarch 
and Appian, Caesar is represented as saying "that he had often 
fought for victory, but this was the first time that he had ever 
fought for life."^^°^ There is no direct statement to prove that 
Pollio was present in this campaign, but the inference from the 



(60) Plut., Caes., 52; App., B. C, II, 95. 

(61) The author of the Bellum Africum never mentions Asinius PolHo. 

(62) Cic., ad Alt., XII, 2. 

(63) App., B. C, II, 104; Plut., Caes., 56; Dio, XLIII, 36-37; Florus, IV, 

78. 

(64) See note 63. 

(65) Plut., Caes., 56; App., B. C, II, 104. 

14 



passage in Suetonius, dealing with Caesar's speech "To his 
Soldiers in Spain" is that Pollio was with Caesar at the time, 
for he later wrote in his histories that the onslaught of the enemy 
was so sudden that Caesar did not have time to make the usual 
appeal to his troops, ^^^ and it may be his account of the battle 
that we find reflected in the later sources ^®'^. That Pollio was 
in Spain at this time is proved by a letter of Cicero's written in 
May, 45, in which he says that Pollio had sent him word con- 
cerning his nephew Quintus Cicero, who was in Caesar's 
camp^^\ In a letter written later in July, he refers to some 
nmior that had reached him concerning Pollio, ^^^^ and although 
we do not know what it was, the letters show that Pollio had 
not yet returned to Italy. He must, however, have been in 
Rome not long after, since he was a praetorius when he was sent 
back to Spain in 44 B. C/'^°\ Caesar after his return to Rome 
in the autumn of 45 had resigned the consulship and had two 
successors elected for the rest of the year, and by raising the 
number of praetors to fourteen and that of quaestors to forty 
had created further openings for his followers^'^^^ Pollio was 
presumably among these praetors who held office for a term of 
less than a year, since he did not return to Rome until after 
July, and would therefore have entered upon his duties at least 
six months late^^^\ 

Pollio was sent to Farther Spain to supersede Carinas as 
commander of the Caesarian forces against Sextus Pompey^^^\ 
Since his army was not a large one and the character of the 
country in Baetica rendered it impossible to do other\\^ise, he 
carried on a guerilla type of warfare against Pompey, with 
slight success; in fact in one battle he seems to have been com- 
pletely routed. This defeat was due in part to the fact that 
Pollio had cast aside his general's cloak, in order to avoid being 



(66) Suet., Divus lulius, 55: proelio, altera posteriore, quo Asinius Pollio 
ne tempus quidem contionandi habuisse cum dicit subita hostium 
incursione. 

(67) Cf. infra, p. (34. 

(68) Cic, ad Alt., XII, 38.2. 

(69) Cic, arf /1«., XIII, 21.3. 

(70) App., B. C, IV, 84; Veil., II, 73.2. 

(71) Dio, XLIII, 47. 

(72) Cf. supra, n. 69. Praetors entered upon their term of office on 
January 1st. 

(73) App., B. C, IV, 84; Dio, XLV, 10. 

15 



recognized in his flight. As another officer of the same name 
had been killed, the soldiers thought themselves without a leader 
and surrendered ^'^■^^ But the death of Caesar and recall of 
Pompey to Rome in March, 43, left Pollio in control of Spain, 
where he remained for several months awaiting orders from 
Rome. 

The statement of Velleius that Asinius had waged a most 
glorious war against Pompey does not seem to agree with the 
accounts of Dio, who makes this battle seem like a very igno- 
minious defeat, and of Appian, who says that Sextus and Asinius 
Pollio were carrying on warfare on equal terms ^'^^\ Clarissi- 
mum seems rather a strong word to use for merely holding one's 
own against the enemy. Thorbecke therefore does not think 
Dio's account can be true and he believes that Pollio, although 
at a disadvantage as to numbers, saved the province from the 
much stronger Pompeians, for he says that if Sextus had been 
so successful against Asinius he would not have accepted the 
terms of the Senate, which required him to dismiss his armies ^'^^^ 
Thorbecke, however, does not seem to recall that in place of his 
armies, Sextus had his father's estates, which had been re- 
turned to him, and further that he was given the same sea power 
that his father had held^'^^^ Sextus made good use of this 
later. According to Thorbecke, shortly after the death of 
Caesar, Asinius Pollio had six legions in further Spain, and one 
at Cartagena, and for this reason he doubts Dio's statement 
that Pollio had merely a small force in Spain. But Pollio him- 
self in writing to Cicero in March, 43 B. C. says that he has only 
three legions. ^'^^ 

The meagre details of the campaigns in Africa and Spain 
afford very slight groimds for an opinion of Pollio's military 
ability, but he appears to have shown personal courage when 



(74) Ihid. 

(75) Dio, XLV, 10; Appian, B. C, IV, 84; Veil. Pat., II, 73.2: ubi adver- 
sus eum clarissimum bellum Pollio Asinius praetorius gesserat. 

(76) Thorbecke, J. R., Commentatio de C. Asmii Pollionis Vita et Studiis 
Doctrinae, p. 13. 

(77) Cic., ad Att., XVI, 4. 

(78) Dio, XLV, 10; App., B. C, IV, 84-85; Aulard, p. 16, agrees with 
Thorbecke that Dio must have been mistaken and that it was quite 
remarkable that Asinius Pollio withstood the attack of the enemy 
and held his province with only two legions. 

(79) Pollio, ap. Cic, /aw., X, 32. 

16 



with Caesar he rescued the cavalry during the second African 
campaign. Throughout all this period, PoUio was apparently 
on terms of great intimacy with Caesar, and in writing to Cicero 
after the death of the Dictator, he says that he had always 
served him with devotion, and that Caesar had always treated 
him as one of his oldest friends, although their acquaintance 
began only at the time when Caesar's fortunes were at their 
hcight^^°\ 



(80) Pollio, ap. Cic, Jam., X, 31: Caesarem vero, quod me in tanta for- 
tuna modo cognitum vetustissimorum familiarium loco habuit, 
dilcxi summa cum pietate et fide. 



17 



CHAPTER III. Relations with M. Antony. 
44—39 B. C. 

Amid the general confusion that ensued at Rome after 
the death of Caesar, Pollio remained for at least a year and a 
half in comparative peace and seclusion in his province of 
Farther Spain. As far as actions were concerned, he main- 
tained a strict neutrality in the struggle between Antony and 
the Republicans, or Liberatores, partly because by temperament 
and inclination he was a lover of peace^^^^ and not of an adven- 
turous disposition, partly because he received little information 
as to the course of events in Rome since all dispatches sent to 
him by the senate had to pass through Hither Spain and Nar- 
bonese Gaul. Lepidus, a friend of Antony who was in control 
of these provinces intercepted the dispatches hoping in this way 
to force Pollio to side with his party ^^^\ 

For a long time Pollio seems to have been unable to make 
up his mind which side he would join in the contest between 
Antony, the representative of autocratic government, and the 
Republicans some of whom had brought about the death of 
Caesar, his former friend. Although he began his political 
career as ^ Republican, he had nevertheless followed the for- 
tunes of Caesar, being forced into this alliance, as he says, not 
as a matter of personal inclination, but because he expected to 
find fewer of his enemies in that party, and it was impossible 
for him to remain neutral much as he desired to do so^^^\ This 
statement throws additional light on his peace-loving disposi- 
tion, for the phrase compulsus eo quo minime volebam can mean 

(81) Pollio, ap. Cic.,/am., X, 31. 2: Natura autem mea et studia trahunt 
me ad pads et libertatis cupiditatem. 

Ibid., 5: Quae re eum me existinia esse, qui primum pacis cupidissi- 
mus sim — omnes enim cives plane studeo esse salvos. 

(82) Pollio, ap. Cic., fam., X, 31. 4: quod, cum Lepidus contionaretur 
atque omnibus scriberet se consentire cum Antonio, maxime con- 
trarium fuit; nam quibus commeatibus invito illo per illius provin- 
ciam legiones ducerem? Aut, si cetera transissem, num etiam Alpes 
poteram transvolare, quae praesidio illius tenentur? Adde hue quod 
perferri litterae nulla condicione potuerunt; sescentis enim locis 
excutiuntur, deinde etiam retinentur ab Lepido tabellarii. 

(83) Pollio, ap. Cic, fam., X, 31. 2 and 3, cf. supra, p. 8, n. 34. 

18 



only that he preferred to keep out of the struggle altogether, 
since his loyalty to Caesar has already been seen. After Cae- 
sar's death, in three letters written to Cicero (/aw., X, 31-33) 
Pollio expresses great devotion to the Republic, and laments 
that, not having been recalled by the Senate, he could not come 
to its aid^*^\ In spite of his protestations of loyalty, the Re- 
publicans did not count ver>^ much on his su])port, especially 
after he ignored the Senate's instructions of April, 43, that he 
should attack Antony, if he had the opportunity (Appian, B. C, 
III, 74). These instructions may never have reached Pollio, 
and as Lepidus and Plancus who had been given the same orders 
did not move against Antony, it would have been impossible 
for Pollio to have obeyed the orders if they had come. Whether 
Pollio was left in Spain because he was needed there, or because 
the senate doubted either his devotion or his ability, it is diflfi- 
cult to say. Pollio's own feeling was that the Republic and 
Senate had not got as much advantage out of him as they 
should and would have done, had they known him better '^^ 
Octavian, who was at this time an ally of the Senate and the 
Republicans, also wrote to Asinius and Lepidus "that for the 
sake of appearance they should obey the Senate, but that they 
should confer together for their own safety while the}' could do 
so, and reproach Antony for his conduct; that they should fol- 
low the example of their own soldiers, who did not separate 
even when they were discharged from the service," but pre- 
sented a united front to the assaults of their enemies. (Appian, 
B. C, III, 81). This statement, which looks as if Octavian 
were already contemplating a reconciliation with Antony, 
probably produced the desired effect on the plans of the generals 
in Spain and Gaul. The only service that Pollio had rendered 
the Republic in the year following Caesar's death was in keeping 
his province at peace and his army from joining Antony. He 
refused to let any of his soldiers leave, although the emissaries 
of Antony entered his camps and attempted to win over the 
legionaries, and Lepidus demanded that the XXX'*" legion be 

(84) Pollio, ap. Cic, Jam., X, 33. 5: Itaquc proximis litteris consilium 
meum expcdietur; nam neque deesse neque superesse rei publicae 
volo. Ibid., X, 33. 1 : Atque utinam eodem senatus consulto, quo 
Plancum et Lepidum in Italiam arcessistis, me quoque iussetis 
venire! profecto non accepissct res publica hoc vulnus .... 

(S.l) Pollio, ap. Cic.,/uw., X, 32. 

19 



sent to him/^^^ Even this service was in great part uninten- 
tional, for it was simply the result of his policy of remaining 
neutral until he saw which side would be victorious. By the 
spring of 43 Pollio apparently had decided to join Antony, for 
Decimus Brutus, a Republican and one of the Liberator es, writ- 
ing to Cicero soon after the battle of Mutina, shows that in his 
opinion Pollio was already lost to their cause. This is shown 
with equal clearness by Pollio 's own statement in a letter to 
Cicero in May, 43, when he says that it will be necessary to 
approach Lepidus with tact, as it is through his province alone 
that the army from Farther Spain can return to Italy ^^'^. 

By September of 43, it was quite evident that the cause of 
the Republicans was lost and that Octavian, angered by their 
treatment, was about to form a coalition with Antony. Pollio 
therefore marched from Spain into Gaul and joined forces with 
Antony and Lepidus; Plancus also joined them at the same 
time^^^ and soon after this union the Second Triumvirate of 



(86) Pollio, ap. Cic, f am., X, 32. 4: Tres legiones firmas habeo, quarum 
unam, duodetricensimam, cum ad se initio belli arcessisset Antonius 
hac poUicitatione, quo die in castra venisset, denarios quingenos 
singulis militibus daturum . . . incitatissimam retinui, aegre 
mehercules; nee retinuissem, si uno loco habuissem, ut pote cum 
singulae quaedam cohortes seditionem fecerint ... Nee vero 
minus Lepidus ursit me et suis et Antonii litteris, ut legionem tricen- 
simam mitterem sibi. 

(87) D. Brutus, ap. Cic, Jam., XI, 9. 1: In primis rogo te, ad hominem 
ventosissimum, Lepidum, mittas, ne bellum nobis redintegrare possit 
Antonio sibi coniuncto. Nam de Pollione Asinio puto te perspicere 
quid faeturus sit. Multae et bonae et firmae sunt legiones Lepidi et 
Asinii. 

(88) Livy, Per., CXX: Quum M. Antonio vires Asinius quoque Pollio 
et Munatius Plancus cum exercitibus suis adiuncti ampliassent . . . 
Veil., II, 63: Plancus deinde dubia, id est, sua fide, diu quarum esset 
partium secum luctatus, ac sibi difficile consentiens et nunc adiutor 
D. Bruti, designati consulis collegae sui, senatuique se litteris ven- 
ditans, mox eiusdem proditor; Asinius autem Pollio, firmus proposito 
et lulianis partibus fidus, Pompeianis ad versus; uterque exercitus 
tradidere Antonio. 

Appian, B. C, III, 97: "While pursuing Decimus, Antony was 
joined by Asinius Pollio with two legions." This seems contrary to 
Pollio's own statement (cited p. 16) that he had three legions in 
Spain, for there is no record of his having left one behind. Appian 
is probably mistaken in the number although he is followed by Firth 
(p. 49) "Gallia Narbonensis and Hither Spain were under the control 
of Lepidus and four legions, while Further Spain was in the hands of 
Pollio with two legions." 

Gardthausen, p. 438: also follows Appian and says that the third 
legion was probably left in Spain, but there is no evidence of this. 
On general principles Pollio's own statement may be accepted rather 
than Appian, who wrote 150 years later. Mistakes in numerals are 
of very common occurrence in manuscripts. 

20 



Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus was formed. In the course of 
the proscriptions which followed at Rome in November, 43, 
Pollio's father-in-law, L. Quintius, met his death. The first 
names on the list were those of the brother of Lepidus and the 
uncle of Antony; next came the brother and father-in-law re- 
spectively of Plancus and Pollio, the consuls elect ^^^\ The 
choice of victims among the relatives of those highest in power 
may have been due to the wish to inspire terror. 

During the following year, Pollio was left in charge of 
Antony's province of Cisalpine Gaul, while the triumvirs were 
in the East pursuing Brutus and Cassius. On the return of 
Octavian in 41 B. C, Pollio was commissioned to arrange for 
the distribution of lands in Northern Italy among the veterans 
and it was at this time that he was able to save Vergil's farm 
from confiscation^^^\ These land allotments had aroused a 
great deal of discontent and hostility against Octavian in Italy. 
Fulvia, the wife of M. Antony, with L. Antony his brother 
assumed the leadership of this disaffected element, and in the 
continued absence of M. Antony in the East, summoned his 
generals in Italy, Pollio among the others, to their assistance. 
Before hostilities had actually begun, Pollio, with seven legions 
under his command^^^\ held the passes of the Alps and pre- 
vented the departure of the legions which Octavian was sending 
into Spain to quell a revolt there (Appian, B. C, V, 20), but was 
finally forced to let them proceed in accordance with the pro- 

(89) Appian, B. C, IV, 12: In mentioning the proscription of Pollio's 
father-in-law says that Pollio was consul elect for the next year, 42, 
with Plancus as his colleague; later (IV, 27) in relating the same inci- 
dent, he says that Pollio was consul at that time 43 B. C. Both 
these statements are contrary to the official records for the years 
42 and 43, (see C. I. L., P.pp. 63 and 64); the consuls for the year 43 
were Pansa and Hirtius, then Octavian and Pedius and finally Carinas 
and Vcntidius; for 42 they were Plancus and Lepidus. Pollio was 
consul in 40. This mistake may have arisen from the fact that the 
triumvirs in November 43, chose consuls for several successive years 
from among their followers. 

(90) lun. Phil., ad Verg.. Buc, II, 1: si eium laudaret, cuius forma Pollio 
delectabatur, qui eo tempore Transpadanam Italiae partem tenebat 
et agris praeerat dividendis. 

Serv., ad Verg., Buc, VI, 6: *am legatum substitutum qui trans- 
padanae provinciae etc. qui curavit ne ager, qui Vergilio restitutus 
fuerat, a veteranis auferretur. Ibid., IX, 11 : autem nonnulli quibus 
sibi Pollionem intercessorem apud Augustum concihaverat, accipiunt. 

(91) Veil., II, 76: nam Pollio Asinius cum septem legionibus diu retenta 
in potestate Antonii Venetia, 



21 



visions of an agreement between Octavian and L. Antony. As 
the other articles of this treaty were not carried out by either 
party, war broke out in the autumn of 41, and Pollio with 
Ventidius was sent by L. Antony to block the advance of Sal- 
vidienus who, being recalled by Octavian from his journey to 
Spain, was at this time in Gaul with a large army (Appian, 
B.^C, V, 27). Pollio and Ventidius apparently did not move 
with any alacrity as they were not sure whether M. Antony 
would approve of the war or not, and while they followed slowly 
after Salvidienus, L. Antony was forced to take refuge in Perusia 
where he was besieged by Agrippa and Octavian. Instead of 
hastening to his assistance, Pollio and Ventidius allowed Sal- 
vidienus to join Octavian and having thus effectually cut them- 
selves oflE from Perusia and rendered impossible any attempts 
to rescue Lucius, they were forced to withdraw to Ravenna and 
Ariminum (Appian, B. C, V, 32-33). A little later Pollio with 
Ventidius and Plancus, who had also come to relieve Lucius, 
made one last attempt to go to his assistance, but were turned 
aside and blockaded in Fulginium by Agrippa and Salvidienus. 
Asinius and Ventidius were for making a sortie and fighting 
their way to Perusia, but Plancus persuaded them to wait, as 
they were between the forces of Octavian and Agrippa, and were 
likely to be surrounded if they left their fortifications (Appian, 
B. C, V, 35). This inaction on their part caused Lucius to 
blame them for his surrender, which took place in March, 40 
B. C. (Appian, B. C, V, 39). 

As this surrender put a stop to any aggressive action, Pollio 
and the other generals withdrew to the Adriatic coast, and 
began to collect soldiers and provisions in the Po Valley, in 
readiness for M. Antony's return from the East. Meanwhile 
Asinius won over Domitius Ahenobarbus, a former follower 
of Brutus, and sent him in charge of a fleet to inform M. Antony 
of their preparations ^^^^ Since Pollio had thus used his posi- 



(92) Appian, B. C, V, 50; Macrobius, S., I, 11, 22: Asinio etiam PoUione 
acerbe cogente Patavinos, ut pecuniam et arma conferrent . . . . ; 
Veil., II, 76: Antonium petens (Pollio), vagum adhuc Domitium 
quern digressum e Brutianis castris post caedem eius praediximus, 
et propriae classis,* factum ducem^ consiliis suis illectum, ac fide data, 
iunxit Antonio. Quo facto, quisquis aequum se praestiterit, sciat 
non minus a Pollione in Antonium, quern ab Antonio in Pollionem 
esse collatum. 

22 



tion in Cisalpine Gaul against the interests of' Octavian, the 
latter sent Alfenus Varus to supersede him, and made an un- 
successful effort to win over his legions through the agency of 
Agrippa (Appian, B. C, V, 50-51). 

On the return of M. Antony to Italy and the renewal of 
hostilities between him and Octavian, the soldiers of both 
armies demanded that peace should be made between the 
triumvirs. Pollio, Maecenas and Cocceius were chosen to 
draw up a new agreement; Pollio as Antony's representative, 
Maecenas as Octavian's, and Cocceius as the friend of both 
(Appian, B. C, V, 64). This treaty was concluded at Brundisi- 
um in the autumn of the year 40 B. C, after which the trium- 
virs and their followers returned to Rome. 

Pollio had already been elected to the consulship for the 
year 40 B. C. with Cn. Domitius Calvinus^^^\ in spite of the 
fact that he was not more than thirty-six years of age, while 
the legal minimum for a consul was forty-three ^^*\ Another 
irregularity connected with his tenure of office was the fact 
that he was not in Rome in January in order to enter upon his 
duties^^"^\ because he was occupied with the war in Northern 
Italy. It was usually considered necessary for a magistrate 
to be in Rome at the beginning of his official year for the ob- 
servance of certain formalities, but under extraordinary cir- 
cumstances he was permitted to take office in absentta^^\ This 
must have been the case with Pollio, because there is extant an 
inscription dated by his year of office ^^^\ The general state 
of confusion in this year would account for these two irregu- 
larities^^^^ for in this period men received office in return for 
services rendered to the party then in power, and earlier restric- 
tions were often disregarded. 



(93) C. I. L., I-', p. 60, Fasti Augurum: A. U. C. 714 (B. C. 40) Cn. Domi- 
tio M. f. Cal[vino. 11] C. Asinio Cn. f. Pollionfe cos) L. Comclio 
L. I. Balbo P. Calnidio P. f. Crasso suf.j Post R. C. an. DCCX 
[III]. C. I. L., P, p. 04, Fasti Colotiani: A. U. C. 714[C]n. Domi- 
tius M. f. C. Asinius Cn. f. [Sjuf. L. Cornelius L. f. Suf. P. Canidius 
P. f. See also C. I. L., 1-, p. 65, Fasti Biondarii. 

(94) Sec Abbott, Roman Political Institutions 11173. 
(Qr,) See Abbott, Ibid., If 177. 

(96) See Daremberg and Saglio, Did. des Ant., s. vv. Consul, nuig_i stratus. 

(97) C. I. L., X, 5159: An inscription found at Casinum in Latiuni, dated 
as follows: a. d. IIII Eid. Oct. Cn. Domit. C. Asinio Cos. 

(98) Similarly, Pollio did not enter upon the duties of his praetorship 
until the latter part of July or August. Cf. supra, p. 15. 

23 



PolHo and Calvinus evidently did not complete their full 
term since two consules suffecti, L. Cornelius Balbus and L. 
Canidius Crassus were elected in the course of the year. This 
confused state of affairs in the political conditions of Italy 
stands in striking contrast to the prophecies and hopes expressed 
by Vergil in his Fourth Eclogue, written to celebrate the con- 
sulship of Pollio and to show his own gratitude for the saving 
of his Mantuan farm^®®\ 

In the following year Pollio was sent with proconsular 
powers to Dalmatia by Antony, who as triumvir had charge of 
the eastern provinces, in order to wage war against the Parthini, 
an Illyrian tribe living near Epidamnus (Dyrrhachium)^^°°\ 
Appian {B. C, V, 75) says that Antony ordered this expedition 
because he wanted to "enrich as well as to exercise the soldiers 
who were to go with him into winter quarters", but the excuse 
was given that the Parthini, although generally friends rather 
than foes of the Romans, ^^^^^ had been very zealous supporters 
of Brutus. Pollio accordingly gathered together the legions 
in Northern Italy and marching around the head of the Adri- 
atic-^°^^ carried on a successful campaign against the Parthini, 
capturing from them the Dalmatian city of Salonae in the course 
of the war^^°'^\ On his return to Rome Pollio celebrated a 



(99) Vergil, Buc, IV, 11: Teque adeo decus hoc aevi, te consule inibit, 
Pollio, et incipient magni procedere menses; 
Te duce, siqua manent sceleris vestigia nostri, 
Irrita perpetua solvent formidine terras. 

(100) Dio, XLVIII, 42; Floras, IV, 12. 11. 

(101) See Smith, Diet, of Geog., s. v. Parthini. 

(102) Verg., Buc, VIII, 6: Tu mihi seu magni superas iam saxa Timavi, 

Sive Oram lUyrici legis aequoris, 
Serv., ad Verg., Buc, VIII, 6: ubi, ubi es, o Auguste, sive Vene- 
tiae fluenta transcendis — nam Timavus fluvius est. Venetiae vel 
Histriae — sive per Illyricum navigas mare id est per Dalmatian!. 

(103) Pollio named a son who was born this year Saloninus in honor of 
the capture of Salonae. See Serv., ad Verg., Buc, IV, 1: Asinius 
Pollio, ductor Germanici exercitus, cum post captam Salonam, 
Dalmatiae civitatem, primo meruisset lauream, post etiam con- 
sulatum adeptus fuisset, eodem anno suscepit filium, quern a capta 
civitate Saloninum vocavit. Serv., ad Verg., Buc, VIII, 12: 
Quidam, sicut dictum est, in Pollionem dictum tradunt, qui tunc 
Illyricum petebat, expugnaturus Salonas et inde ad orientem ad 
Antonium profecturus. See also Schol. Acron, ad Hor., C, II, 1. 15. 

24 



triumph on October 25, 39 B. C."°^\ and with this honor ended 
his active military career, retiring at the age of thirty-seven to a 
life devoted to civil and literar}- pursuits. 



(104) C. I. L., P, p. 77, Tabula Triiimphorum Barberiniana; 715 C. 
Asinius ex Parlhineis A. D. VIII K. Nov. triumphavit Palmam 
dedit. C. I. L., P, p. 5() = (I, p. 401) Acta Triumph. Capitolina, 
A. U. C. 715, C. Asinius Cn. f. Pollio Procos. An. (DCXIIII) ex 
Parthincis VIII K. Novcm. 

It is impossible to understand how Ferrero's statement (III, 277) 
that Antony "divided into three bodies the army of Pollio and re- 
captured as he went Salona, which had revolted; at the same time 
he inflicted a defeat upon the Parthini" can find any support jn the 
references to Servius and C. I. L. on which he claims that it is based. 



26 



CHAPTER IV. Civil Life in Rome. 

From 39 B. C. until his death in 4 A. D.^^°^\ Pollio was 
occupied by interests quite different from those that filled his 
early life. When Antony departed for the East to claim his 
half of the Roman world, Pollio had remained in Italy and, un- 
willing to humble himself by joining the supporters of Octavian, 
withdrew from active political life and devoted all his time and 
energy to literature and oratory. In 31 B. C. when Octavian 
summoned him to join the expedition against Antony which 
ended in the battle of Actium, Pollio refused on the ground of 
his former friendship with Antony, saying that he would keep 
out of their conflict and fall a reward to the victor. He had not 
seen Antony since his notorious career in the East and still 
pictured him as the able leader under whom he had served and 
to whom he was so greatly indebted^^'^^^ 

Through the leisure thus afforded, Pollio turned his atten- 
tion to less dangerous pursuits, and showed his versatility by the 
distinction he achieved in poetry, history and oratory. In his 
own day he was even more noted as an orator than as an his- 
torian, and was classed with the foremost speakers of his time — 
Cicero, Caesar, Caelius, Calvus, Brutus and Messalla^^^'^^ 
Pollio and Messalla, with whom he was frequently associated 
in cases, were successors of the earlier famous orators of this 
group, and by some of their contemporaries were believed not 



(105) Hieronymus, Chron. ad an. Ahr., 2020: Asinius Pollio orator et 
consularis, qui de Dalmatis triumphaverat, LXXX aetatis suae 
anno in Villa Tusculana moritur. 

See also Val. Max., VIII, 13. 4. 

(106) Veil., II, 86: Non praetereatur Asinii Pollionis factum et dictum 
memorabile; namque cum se post Brundisinam pacem continuisset 
in Italia, neque aut vidisset reginam, aut post enervatum amore eius 
Antonii animum, partibus eius se miscuisset, rogante, Caesare, ut 
secum ad helium proficisceretur Actiacum, 'mea inquit, in Antonium 
maiora merita sunt, illius in me beneficia notiora: itaque discrimini 
vestro me subtraham, et ero praeda victoris.' 

(107) Tac, Dial., 17. 1: Sed transeo ad Latinos oratores in quibus non 
Menenium, ut puto, Agrippam, qui potest videri antiquus, nos- 
trorum temporum disertis ante ponere soletis, sed Ciceronem et 
Caesarem, et Caelium et Calvum et Brutum et Asinium et Messal- 
1am. See also ibid., 25. 10. 

26 



only to have carried on the tradition but to have surpassed 
their predecessors in style. Their names are coupled almost as 
frequently as those of the Dioscuri and while both were dis- 
tinguished by a certain archaic quality, Messalla was more 
elegant and graceful ^'^\ 

Pollio's care and accuracy were regarded by some as exces- 
sive and the old-fashioned severity of his style formed so strik- 
ing a contrast to the grace and elegance of Cicero that he seemed 
to be a generation older^^°^\ He had a fondness for archaic 
words and forms and drew on Accius and Pacuvius to such an 
extent that he appeared harsh and dry in style'' '°^ These 
defects were exaggerated by his imitators of a later day so 
that Quintilian could say the dry and jejune rivalled PoUio, 
just as the obscurely brief thought they surpassed Sallust and 
Thucydides and those who lacked embellishments considered 
themselves Attic purists"''^ Pollio's belief that the substance 
was more important than the form^^'^^ led him to expend much 
time and care on working out his ideas and on the logical divi- 
sion and arrangement of the subject matter'^'^^ but to pay little 
attention to the form of their presentation. His sentences 



(108) Quint., X, 1. 113; XII, 11. 28; Sen., Contr., Ill, Praef., 14; Tac, 
Ann., IV, 34; XI, G and 7; Dial., 12. 

(109) Quint., X, 1. 113: Multa in Asinio Pollione inventio, summa dili- 
gentia, adeo ut quibusdam etiam niniia videatur, et consilii ct 
animi satis: a nitore et iucunditate Ciceronis ita longe abest, ut 
videri possit saeculo prior. 

Tac., Dial., 21. 

(110) Quint., I, 6. 42; ncc 'hos lodices', quamquam id Pollioni placet . . . 

Tac, Dial., 21; Asinius quoquc, quamquam propioribus tem- 
poribus natus sit, videtur niihi inter Mencnios et Appios studuissc. 
Pacuvium certe et Accium non solum tragoediis sed etiam in ora- 
tionibus suis expressit; adeo durus ct siccus est. 

A remark of Liv^y's cited in Sen., Conlr., IX, 25, 20, is supposed 
to refer to Asinius Pollio; Livius dc oratoribus (jui verl)a antiqua 
et sordida consectantur et orationis obscuritatem .severitatem jnitant 
aiebat Miliaden rhetorem eleganter dixisse: 

(111) Quint., X, 2. 17: qui carent cultu atque scntentiis, Attici scilicet, 
qui praecisis conclusionibus obscuri, Sallustium atque Thucydidem 
superant, tristes ac ieiuni Pollionem aemulantur, 

(112) See Scliol. Cruquian., ad Hor., Ef}., II, 3. 311; where he cites a 
remark of Pollio: "male hcrcule, cveniat verbis, nisi rem sec|uantur" 
when Pollio evidently had in mind a quotation from the eUlcr Cato, 
the greatest exponent of old-fashioned oratory; "rem tene, verba 
sequcnlur" {Lihri ad Marcum Filium, 15, Jordan, p. 80). 

(113) Quintilian (X, 1. 113; 2. 25; XII, 10. 11) in mentioning the dis- 
tinguishing characteristics of the various orators always refers to 
the diligentia of Pollio. 

27 



were, therefore, uneven, jerky and ineffective in places where a 
decided effect was most needed, usually ending abruptly except 
in occasional instances where they followed some conventional 
form. This resulted in a crabbed and ill-balanced style, but 
it is to be noted that Pollio is generally contrasted with Cicero 
and his flowing periods^^^^\ 

Pollio delivered orations both in the law courts and in the 
rhetorical schools. We have allusions to seven of the first kind, 
six being speeches in defence of the accused, while the first 
one was the prosecution of Cato mentioned above^^^^\ An 
interval of twelve years had elapsed since that time and Pollio 
being now an older and more experienced lawyer appeared as 
attorney for the defence, a procedure considered more consistent 
with the dignity of the better lawyers as well as more honorable, 
since it enabled him to become the illustrious defender of the 
unfortunate^^^®\ In 43 B. C. Pollio undertook the defense of 
L. Aelius Lamia^^^'^^ a man of equestrian rank and a friend of 
Cicero^^^^^ who was prosecuted for a political offence and was 
acquitted. 

Soon after the battle of Actium, 31 B. C, Pollio again acted 
in behalf of a political offender, M. Aemilius Scaurus, a follower 
of Antony who had been Pollio's opponent in the trial of Cato, 



(114) Sen., Ep., 100, 7: Lege Ciceronem: compositio eius una est, pedem 
servat lenta et sine infamia mollis, at contra PoUionis Asinii sale- 
brosa et exsiliens et ubi minime exspectes, relictura. Denique 
omnia apud Ciceronem desinunt, apud PoUionem cadunt exceptis 
paucissimis, quae ad certum modum et ad unum exemplar adstricta 
sunt. 

(115) Cf. supra, p. 5, et seq. 

(116) Hor., C, II, 1. 13. 

Insigne maestis praesidium reis 
Et consulenti, Pollio curiae. 
See Schol. Aero, et Porph., ad Hor., C, II, 1. 13. 

(117) Sen., Suas., VI, 15: Pollio vult illam veram videri; ita enim dixit 
in ea oratione quam pro Lamia edidit 

Huic certe actioni eius pro Lamia qui interfuerunt negant eum haec 

dixisse 

This trial must have taken place the latter part of 43 or early in 
42 B. C. as it occurred after the death of Cicero and before Pollio 
became governor of Cisalpine Gaul. 

(118) Cic, pro. Sest., 12; in Pison., 27; post Red. in Sen., I, 5; ad. Att., 
XIII, 45; aci /aw., XI, 16, 17. 

28 



but ill this case Pollio was unsuccessful and Scaurus was con- 
demned to death ^"^\ 

The trials in which Pollio next fiji^red invoh'^ed men who 
were accused of poisoning; the first, in 20 B. C, was that of 
Moschus Apollodorus, a prominent rhetorician who was prose- 
cuted by Torquatus and unsuccessfully defended by Pollio^'^^ 
the second was that of Nonius Asprenas, a man of consular 
rank who, in 9 B. C. was accused by Cassius Severus of having 
poisoned a large number of guests'^^^\ This trial aroused a 
great deal of interest in Rome because of the prominence of the 
defendant and the protection given him by Augustus ; Asprenas 
was acquitted^^^^\ 

During the long-continued peace and quiet of the Augustan 
rule and the consequent decrease in political offenses against a 
well organized state, Pollio turned to civil cases. His first 
lawsuit before the Centimiviri, the court for cases relating to 
property^^^^\ was the defence of the heirs of Urbinia against 
the claims of a slave Sosipater or Clusinus Figulus*^""*^ who was 



(119) Quint., VI, 1. 21: Hoc quod proxime dixi, Cicero atque Asinius 
certatim sunt usi, pro Scauro patre hie, ille pro filio. Ibid., IX, 
2. 24: ut Pollio: numquam fore credidi, iudices, ut reo Scauro, ne 
quid in eius iudicio gratia valeret, precarer. Scaurus was after- 
wards pardoned for the sake of his mother Mucia, who had been the 
wife of Pompey. See Dio, LI, 2; LVI, 38; Appian, B. C, V, 142. 

(120) Sen., Contr., II, 5. 13: Novi declamatorcs post Moschuni Apollo- 
dorum, qui reus veneficii fuit et a PoUione Asinio defensus, damnatus 
Massiliae docuit 

See also Schol. Porph., in Hor., £/>., I, 5. 9. 

(121) Pliny, N. //., XXXV, 164; non ilia foediore, cuius vencno Asjircnati 
reo Cassius Severus accusator obiciebat interisse convivas CXXX. 

(122) Suet., Aug., 56: Cum Asprenas Nonius artius ei iunctus causam 
veneficii, accusante Cassio Severo diceret, Augustus consuluil sena- 
tum, quid officii sui putaret; cunctari enim se, ne si superesset, 
eripere[tl legibus reum, sin deesset, destituere ac praedamnare ami- 
cum existimaretur; et consentientibus universis sedit in subsellis 
per aliquot horas, verum tacitus et ne laudatione quidem iudiciali 
data. 

See also. Sen., Conlr., IV, Praef. 11; Quint., X, 1. 22; XI, 1. 57; 
Dio, LV, 4. 

(123) Tac, Dial., 38, 12: ut neque Ciceronis ncque Caesaris neque Bruti 
neque CaeHi necjuc Calvi, non dcnique ullius magni oratoris liber 
apud ccntumviros dictus legatur, cxcei)tis orationibus Asinii quae 
pro hcredibus Urbiniae inscribuntur, ab ijjso tamcn Pollione mediis 
divi Augusti temporibus habitae, postquam longa temponmi quies 
et continuum populi otium et assidua senatus tranquillitas et 
maxima principis disciplina ipsam quoque eloquentiam sicut omnia 
depacaverat . 

(124) Quint., VII, 2. 26. 

29 



represented by Labienus^^^^\ This suit was a celebrated one, 
probably because it was so unusual for a prominent orator to 
try a case in this court. In another similar suit, Pollio success- 
fully defended the heirs of Libumia by suggesting, in the course 
of his plea an imaginary will, which parodied the one presented 
as evidence by the other side (Quint., IX, 2. 34-35). The laws 
forbidding fees bore rather heavily on poorer advocates (Tac, 
Ann., XI, 6) but Pollio being a wealthy man could afford to 
undertake a large number of cases which brought him no finan- 
cial remuneration. A remark of his quoted by Pliny seems to be 
a mournful reflection on his career as an advocate: "by pleading 
cleverly it came to pass that I pleaded frequently, and by 
pleading frequently that I pleaded less cleverly" ^^^®\ 

There are a few references to other speeches of Pollio, 
which seem to have been of the deliberative type and were de- 
livered in the senate^^^''\ Although he had withdrawn from 
political life, Pollio still took part in the meetings of that body, 
for his name occurs as a witness of a senatus consuUum in 17 
B. C.^^~^^ And in 12 B. C. he delivered a speech there against 
the Troiae ludus, a sham fight in which the combatants, boys 
of high rank, were mounted on horseback and carried on a 
contest supposed to have been introduced by Aeneas and the 
Trojans after their landing in Italy. These games, according 
to Vergil {Aeneid, V, 574 sq.) were later celebrated at Alba by 
Ascanius and were doubtless re-introduced by Augustus in 
connection with his revival of the old religion since they are 
mentioned only once in historic times before his Principate. 
Augustus had them performed twice, first in 27 B. C. and again 
in 12 B. C. in connection with the dedication of the theatre of 
Marcellus, where his grandson Gaius Caesar took part with 
better luck than Pollio 's grandson Aeseminus who broke his 
leg in the games. Pollio, believing that so dangerous a sport 



(125) Quint., IV, 1. 11: ut Asinius pro Urbiniae heredibus Labienum ad- 
versarii patronum inter argumenta causae malae posuit. IX, 3. 13: 
ut iam evaluit rebus agentibus, quod Pollio in Labieno damnat et 
contumeliam fecit. Pollio is said to have coined a new word, 
figidatus in connection with this trial. Quint., VIII, 3. 32. 

(126) Plin., Ep., VI, 29: Sed et iliud, quod vel PoUionis vel tamquam 
Pollionis accepi, verissimum experior, 'commode agendo factum 
est ut saepe agerem, saepe agendo ut minus commode.' 

(127) See Hor., C, II, 1. 13; quoted above (p. 28). 

(128) C. I. L., VI, Pars I, 877 (a). 

30 



should be abolished, succeeded in having it forbidden for the 
future^'"^\ Among other speeches made by him before the 
Senate were certain against Plancus, which were not to be 
published until after the death of the latter^'^°\ We do not 
know the occasion for these speeches, but from a knowledge of 
Plancus's life, we may surmise that they related to his behavior 
in 32 B. C. when on his return to Rome, he tried to win favor 
with Octavian by spreading reports against Antony, whom he 
had formerly served. Some of Pollio's orations must have been 
published, and references to them in Tacitus"'^'^ imply that 
they were extant at the close of the first century A. D. 

Asinius Pollio is ranked with Messalla, Augustus and 
Maecenas as one of the greatest patrons of the Declamationes, 
which, although originally confined to the schools of the rheto- 
ricians, where young Romans were taught the principles of 
public speaking, had in Pollio's day become the fashion among 
the older and more experienced orators, not only as recreation 
but as a means of keeping themselves in training^'"^"\ Although 
Pollio encouraged others, both by his presence and criticisms, 
to take part in this public speaking, he himself would never 
declaim in public either because he felt that his style was not 
suited to speeches of this type, or because he felt it beneath the 
dignity of a great orator' ^^^^ As these declamations were often 
improvised on the spot they were never written down or pub- 
lished, but L. Annaeus Seneca the elder in his old age composed 



(129) Suet., Aug., 43: Sed et Troiae lusum edidit frequcntissime niaiorum 
minorumque pucrorum, prisci decorique inoris existimans clarae 
stirpis indolem sic notescere . . Mox finem fecit talia edendi, 
Asinio oratore graviter invidioseque in curia qucsto A[c]semini 
nepotis sui casum, qui et ipse crus fregerat. See also Dio, LXIX, 
48; LI, 22; LIII, 1. 

(1.30) Plin., N. //., Praef. 31: Nee Plancus inlepide, cum diceretur Asinius 
Pollio orationes in eum parare, quae ab ipso aut libertis post mortem 
Planci edcrentur, ne rcspondere posset: cum mortuis non nisi larvas 
luctari. 

(131) Dial., 21, 25 and 17. 

(132) Cic, Tusc, I. 47; XI, 2; Suet., Rhet., 1. 

(133) Sen., Contr., IV, Pracf. 2: Pollio Asinius numquani admissa mul- 
titudine declamavit, nee illi ambitio in studiis defuit . . . Et 
inde est quod Labicnus, homo mentis quam linguae amarioris 

dicit; 'ille triumphalis sencx anpoaffSiS suas (id est declama- 
tiones) numquam populo commisit.' 

Ibid., IV, Praef. 3: Floridior erat aliquanto in declamando quam 
in agendo: illud strictum eius et asperum et nimis iratum ingcnio 
suo indicium adeo cessabat. 

31 



from memory a book of selections from the declamationes he had 
heard in his youth in the Augustan period^^^'^\ The speeches 
in the rhetorical schools had been of two kinds, the Suasoriae 
where the subjects were taken from history and gave the pupils 
practice in deliberative eloquence^^^^^ and the Controversiae 
which were an imitation of real pleading in the courts, but dealt 
with fictitious subjects and laws invented for the purpose. The 
latter were more popular since they provided training for future 
legal speeches. The range of subjects varied from politics to 
moral and philosophical reflections, including character draw- 
ing, pictures of customs, epigrams, etc. As the same subjects 
were used over and over again the speaker had to show his skill 
by rendering them in as novel a way as possible ^^"^^^ and by 
adding piquant touches or else introducing romantic adven- 
tures, such as kidnapping by pirates. Seneca gives numerous 
examples of Pollio's opinions and comments on the different 
subjects of the controversiae'^^'^K These are generally concise, 
matter of fact and strictly logical rather than sympathetic, and 
expressed with a certain neatness of phrase, the opinions of a 
man sure of himself and sufficiently independent to disagree, 
in one case, with the common judgment^^^^\ Concerning some 
of the rhetoricians of his day, Pollio's opinions, reflected in 
Seneca^^^^\ appear to be for the most part sane and just, though 
tinged with self-assurance. That his criticisms were decidedly 
sharp and dogmatic may be judged from those extant, as well 
as from Seneca's statement that Pollio's own style in oratory 
"demanded a consideration which Pollio himself refused to 
others""«\ 

Pollio took certain grammarians under his patronage. 
Timagenes, a rhetorician and historian from Alexandria, 
having offended Augustus by his bitter sarcasms was forced to 



(134) Seneca, Suasoriae et Controversiae. 

(135) Juv., Sal., I, 16; VII, 152, 154; Pers., Ill, 45. 

(136) Quint., II, 10. 5; Petron., Sat., 1. 

(137) Sen., Contr., I, 6. 11; IV, 2 exc.; IV, 5. 6 exc; VII, 1. 4. 
(138)- Sen., Contr., I, 6. 11. 

(139) Sen., Suas., II, 10; Contr., II, 3. 13; II, 3. 19; II, 5. 10; IV, Praef. 11; 
IV, 6 exc.; VII, Praef. 2; VII, 4. 3; IX, 2. 25. 

(140) Sen., Contr., IV, Praef. 3. 

32 



leave the imperial house and found a refuge with Pollio^'"*'\ 
Although Augustus warned Pollio that he was "sheltering a wild 
beast," he did not demand that Timagenes be turned out, for 
he realized that Pollio had become reconciled with Timagenes 
only because of his own attitude towards him. Ateius Capito 
or Praetextatus was also befriended by Pollio and emjjloyed by 
him to comjiile a book of rules on the art of composition to be 
used in writing his historical works. Capito had previously 
been associated with Sallust in collecting material for his his- 
tories^'-*2\ 

It has been inferred from citations in the grammarians of 
the fourth and sixth centuries that Pollio wrote works on gram- 
mar, but all the citations, save one, are merely examples of 
Pollio's usage of certain forms about which there was evidently 
difference of op in ion ^'"^'^^ Whether he wrote any separate 



(141) Sen., de ira. III, 23: Timagenes historiarum scriptor quaedani in 
ipsum, quaedam in uxorem eius et in totam donium dixerat nee 
perdiderat dicta .... Saepe ilium Caesar monuit moderatius 
lingua uteretur: perseveranti domo sua interdixit. Postea Tima- 
genes in contubernio Pollionis Asinii consenuit ac tota civitate 
direptus est . , . Hoc dumtaxat Pollioni Asinio (Caesar) dixit : 
dtjpiOTpocpeH. Paranti deinde excusationem obstitit et: "frucre, 
inquit, mi Pollio, fruere", et cum Pollio diceret: "si iubes, Caesar, 
statim illi domo mea interdicam." "Hoc me, inquit, putas fac- 
turum, cum ego vos in gratiam reduxerini?" Fuerat enim ali- 
quando Timageni Pollio iratus nee ullam aliam habuerat causam 
desinendi, quam quod Caesar coeperat. 

(142) Suet., digram., X, 1. 20 ^/ 5^?. : Coluit [Capito Ateius) postea familiar- 
issime C. Sallustium et eo defuncto Asinium Pollionem, quos his- 
toriam componere aggrcssos, alterum brcviario rerum omnium 
Romanarum ex quibus quas vellet eligeret, instruxit, alterum prae- 
ceptis de ratione scribendi. Quo magis miror Asinium crc(lidis.sc, 
antiqua eum verba et figuras solitum esse colligere Sallust io; cum 
sibi sciat nil aliud suadere quam ut nolo civilique et proprio scr- 
mone utatur, vitetque maxime obscuritatem Sallusti et audaciam 
in translationibus. 

(143) Charis., Gramm. Lai., I, 84. 11: caque prisco saucia puer filia sum- 
mam; 

ubi tamcn Varro cum a puera jnitat dictum, sed Aelius Stilo, 
magistcr eius, et Asinius contra. Ihid., I, 134. 3: Inscqucnti 
Asinius Pollio ad Cacsarem I "insequenti die'. Prise, Gramm. 
Lai., II, 513.7: 'nanciscor' etiam 'nactum' facit absque n, ut Prober 
et Capro et Pollioni et Plinio placet. Ihid., V, r>74. (>: Caminus 
generis masculini, sicut Pollio Asinius. Charis., Gramm. Lai., I, 
1(X). 24: antistes habet antistitam, ut . . . . Polio 'Veneris 
antistita Cupra', 

33 



grammatical works as Haupt {Op., II, 67 et seq.) believes, or 
whether his grammatical criticisms are found in his other writ- 
ings as Bergk {Op., II, 751, 94) and Steup {De Prob. Gramm., 70) 
think, is not to be decided with certainty^^**\ It is evident, 
however, that he was interested in the niceties of grammatical 
usage^^*^\ for the masculine pugillares, which he preferred, is 
contrasted in Charisius with the neuter form pugillaria used by 
Catullus^^^\ Peter {Jahrh. f. Philol., CXIX, 422) takes the 
view that Pollio wrote a separate work on the diction of Catullus, 
but such a conclusion does not necessarily follow from this 
passage. 

In any case, Pollio was well known as a critic and his opin- 
ions of some of his contemporaries have been preserved to us by 
writers on grammatical and oratorical subjects. He did not 
hesitate to criticize the great writers of his day — Sallust, Caesar, 
Cicero and Livy. In a letter to Plancus, Pollio criticized Sallust 
for his inaccuracy of diction, because he used transgredi, which 
was strictly a land term, for crossing the sea, instead of the 
usual transfretare^^'^^K But his chief criticism of Sallust is 
provoked by that author's use of obsolete and archaic words 
in his history of the Jugurthine War, although Pollio lays most 
of the blame for this on the grammarian Ateius Capito, who 
had helped Sallust with his material, providing him with an 



(144) Pauly-Wissowa, s. v. Asinius, 1[1599. 

(145) Tac, Dial., 12. 24: Plures hodie reperies qui Ciceronis gloriam 
quam qui Vergilii detrectent, nee ullus Asinii aut Messallae liber 
tarn inlustris est quam Medea Ovidii aut Varii Thyestes. 

(146) Charis., Gramm. Lat., I, 97: Hos pugillares et masculino genere et 
semper pluraliter dicas, sicut Asinius in Valer(ium), quia pugillus 
est qui plures tabellas continet in seriem sutas. At tamen haec 
pugillaria saepius neutraliter dicit idem Catullus in hendecasyllabis. 
Hor., S., I, 10. 84: 

Ambitione relegata te dicere possum, 
Pollio, te, Messalla, tuo cum fratre, simulque 
Vos, Bibule et Servi, simul his te, candide Furni, 
Compluris alios, doctos ego qlios et amicos 
Prudens praetereo; quibus haec, sint qualiacumque, 
Arridere velim, doliturus si placeant spe 
Deterius nostra. 

(147) Cell., X, 26. 1: Asinio Pollioni in quadam epistula, quam ad Plan- 
cum scripsit et quibusdam aliis C. Sallustio iniquis dignum nota 
visum est, quod in primo historiarum maris transitum transmis- 
sumque navibus factum transgressum appellavit eosque, qui fretum 
transmiserant, quos "transfretasse" dici solitum est, transgressos 
dixit. 

34 



epitome of all Roman history^'"**\ This criticism is interesting 
since Pollio himself was noted for his love of archaisms"^^^' and 
was also helped by Capito in the composition of his own his- 
tories of the Civil Wars; for after the death of Sallust, Pollio 
took Ateius Capito under his patronage^'^'. Suetonius cannot 
understand how Asinius could believe that Ateius collected 
archaic words and expressions for Sallust, since the gram- 
marian was recommended to Pollio as a \\Titer who used familiar, 
unassuming, natural language, "esjjecially avoiding Sallust's 
obscurity and boldness in translation ^^^^\" It is probable, 
therefore, that the blame for the use of archaistic words lies 
with the author himself and not with Capito. Pollio's criti- 
cism of Sallust was concurred in by many other men of his day, 
for Augustus says that Sallust drew his vocabulary from the 
Origines of Cato'^"^"*, and Quintilian quoting a famous epigram, 
"And thou, O Crispus, the author of the history of Jugurtha, 
who hast plentifully stolen words from old Cato" adds that this 
was an offensive kind of affectation and inclined to prevent a 
writer from suiting his words to his subject matter'^^\ Other 
references to Sallust's use of Catonian words are in Suetonius 
{deGranim., 15) and in Gellius (A'. A., I, 15. 18 and IV, 15. 1), 
where he refers to Sallust as a renovator of words. Quintilian 
in another passage calls the words of Sallust dicta sancte et 
antique, and says that such words should be avoided, as they 
are no longer understood in their original meaning^'^^\ He 
later adds that brevity is very happy when it comprises much 
in few words, as Sallust does in some phrases, but that it often 



(148) Suet., de gramm., 10. 4 el seq.: De codem (Ateius) Asinius Pollio in 
libro, quo Sallustii scripta reprehendit ut nimia priscorum verborum 
affectatione ohlita, ita tradit: "in earn adiutorium ci fecit maxime 
quidem Ateius Praete.xtatus" 

Ibid., 10. 20 el seg. This criticism is interesting because Pollio him- 
self was criticized for his love of archaisms. 

(149) Cf. supra p. 27. 

(150) Suet., </e gramw., 10. 

(151) Suet., de gramm.. It) — end. 

(152) Suet., Aug., 86. 

(153) Quint., Vlir, 3. 29-3(3. 
Quint., VIII, 3. 29: 

Et verba antiqui multum furate Catonis, 
Crispe, Jugurthinae conditor historiae: 

(154) Quint., VIII, 3. 44. 

35 



leads to obscurity /^^^^ and for this same reason he blames Sallust 
for using phrases translated from the Greek ^^^^\ The faults of 
Sallust thus appear to have been generally recognized, and 
Pollio's criticisms in this case were just and fair and in accor- 
dance with the judgments of other contemporary critics. 

When we turn to Pollio's criticism of Livy we find that it 
is the latter's Patavinitas to which Pollio takes exception^^^'^^ 
This was perhaps some peculiarity of diction, idiom, accent or 
usage which differentiated the speech of northern Italy from 
that of Rome^^^^\ These local differences, which were proba- 
bly as distinct and varied in Italy as they are in the different 
parts of Italy, England or America today, were regarded as 
provincial by those accustomed to Roman usage. Tuscan, 
Sabine or Praenestine speech was as objectionable to Lucilius 
as was Patavian to Pollio^^''^\ Quintilian, himself a great ad- 
mirer of Livy, does not deny the accusation, although he is 
willing to accept all Italian for Roman without making invidious 
comparisons as to their respective merits. A Roman accent 
was by no means conferred along with citizenship ^^^°\ 

Pollio's criticism of Caesar's Commentaries, on the other 
hand does not deal with the style but considers their historical 
accuracy. Suetonius quotes Pollio as saying that they were 
not written with sufficient care or strict regard for the truth, 
for the statements of others were rashly accepted and the deeds 
of Caesar himself were incorrectly reported either on purpose or 



(155) Quint., VIII, 3.82; he again mentions the brevity of Sallust in 
IX, 3. 12. 

(156) Quint., IX, 3. 17. 

(157) Quint., I, 5. 56: Pollio reprehendit in Livio Patavinitatem, ibid., 
VIII, 1. 3: Et in Tito Livio, mirae facundiae viro, putat inesse 
Pollio Asinius quandam Patavinitatem. 

(158) The view that Pollio's criticism of Livy's Patavinitas was due to his 
lavish praise of Pompey (Tac, Ann., IV, 34) seems utterly un- 
tenable and is referred to by Thorbecke, (p. 138) only to be dis- 
carded. 

(159) Quint., I, 5. 56 "Taceo de Tuscis et Sabinis et Praenestinis 
quoque: nam ut eorum sermone utentem Vettium Lucilius in- 
sectatus, quem ad modum Pollio reprehendit in Livio Patavinita- 
tem, licet omnia Italica pro Romanis habeam." 

(160) Quint., VIII, 1. 3. 

36 



throii^'h a slip of memory' ; moreover he believed that Caesar 
intended to rewrite and correct them^'^'\ 

In a criticism of this kind it is necessary to consider whether 
Pollio wishes to imply that their inaccuracy is due to the method 
of composition, or to a deliberate disregard for integrity of 
statement on Caesar's part. Pollio was himself an eye-witness 
of many of the events described by Caesar, and therefore refers 
to matters which were known to him by personal investigation 
rather than hearsay. His own reputation for veracity was high 
and in some instances his statements were preferred to Caesar's 
by Appian and Plutarch ^^^■''\ It is true that Pollio's criticism 
of Caesar's veracity is the only one which has come down to 
us^'^^\ but he can scarcely have been the single one of Caesar's 
contemporaries who questioned his statements at a time when 
party and personal feelings ran high. Pollio in making such a 
criticism must have been expressing what he considered essen- 
tial qualities for the writing of history, namely, accuracy and 
reverence for the truth, and in showing how far Caesar had 
fallen below these standards he need not have been making a 
deliberate attack upon him. This latter view would seem 
almost incredible had it not been maintained by one critic who 
believed that a breach of friendship between Caesar and Pollio 
led to this harsh judgment^^^\ It has already been shown^'^^ 
that there is little or no evidence for this supposed breach, and 
it would seem to be entirely out of keeping with Pollio's charac- 
ter as an historian to be led astray by personal prejudice. Thor- 
becke believes that the very strength of his friendship with 
Caesar caused him to make this criticism lest he be thought to 
have allowed his feelings of loyalty to influence his impartial 
judgment ''^\ 

From what.soever motive Pollio docs question the absolute 
veracity of Caesar and in some specific instances contradicts 



(161) Suet., Divus lulins, 50: Pollio Asinius parum diligcnter parunique 
Integra veritalc compositos putat, cum Caesar pleraque per alios 
erant gesta temere crediderit ct quae per se, vcl consulto vel etiam 
memoria lapsus perperam ediderit; existimatque rescripturum et 
correcturum fuisse. 

(162) Cf. infra, p. 54. 

(163) Thorbecke, op. cit., p. 134. 

(164) See Schanz, op. cit., P, pp. 134-135. 

(165) Cf. supra, p. 12, et seq. 

(166) Thorbecke, p. 134. 

37 



him, but at the same time he explains that Caesar's work was 
unfinished and uncorrected. Carelessness, too much credulity, 
forgetfulness of detail, introduction of the personal element 
are faults which are characteristic of notes made hastily on the 
spot, but since records such as these may be revised, amended, 
expurgated and put into proper proportion in a completed work, 
there is no reason to believe that Caesar would not have fol- 
lowed the usual method of historians and worked over his 
material, had the Commentaries been given a final revision. 

When we come to Pollio's criticism of Cicero we are on 
more difficult ground, for, although the extant material in this 
case is more extensive, it is necessary to explain the apparent 
change in Pollio's attitude toward the great orator. As a 
young man, Asinius Pollio had expressed deep admiration and 
affection for Cicero in the letters written from Spain where he 
says that if he is ever allowed to enjoy leisure again, he will 
"never budge a step" from Cicero's side^^^''^ This loyalty to 
Cicero may have been due to some professional kindness done 
him by the famous lawyer when his own career at the bar was 
beginning, for the tone of his letters seems to imply a closer 
bond of personal relationship than merely the interests of the 
republican cause common to them both. These letters ^^^^^ 
were written in 43, during Pollio's governorship and contain 
several allusions to his devotion to the Republic, with regrets 
that the party leaders had not made as much use of him as he 
desired or was capable of rendering '^^^\ 

Pollio's return to Rome and his decision to cast in his lot 
with Antony, put him on the opposite side from Cicero and 
possibly the fact that the Republicans appeared ungrateful or 
unappreciative of Pollio's talents was the determining reason 
for his separation from one whose opinion he had valued so 
highly. Certainly Pollio's estimate of Cicero, which we are 
able to piece together on the basis of quotations from Seneca 
and Quintilian, is not that of an enthusiastically devoted ad- 
mirer^^ °\ These criticisms were made after Cicero's death, 
and the most important passage is a summary of his character 



(167) Pollio, ap. Cic, fam., X, 31. 

(168) Pollio, ap. Cic, fam., X, 31, 32, 33. 

(169) Pollio, ap. Cic, fam., X, 32. 

(170) Seneca, Suas., VI, 14-15, 24, 27; Quint., XII, 1. 22. 



38 



and ability quoted from PoUio's Histories'^ '^^ in which a de- 
scription of the death of Cicero was also given, in a spiteful 
manner (maligne), according to Seneca who states in another 
place that Asinius was most derogatory to the reputation of 
Cicero {infestissimus famae'^^^^), and was the only man who 
believed the latter wished to save his life by promising Antony 
that he would bum the orations written against him. PoUio 
went even further and said that Cicero not only promised to 
forswear the Philippics but to write others in praise of Antony 
and read them in public. Seneca states that the charges were 
so false that Pollio did not dare include them in his Histories nor 
voice them publicly in his defence of Lamia, but inserted them 
in the later publication of this speech^^''"^\ 

Pollio, however grudgingly, seemed to Seneca to have 
given his full due to Cicero. He begins his tribute by saying 
that it is unnecessary to speak concerning the genius and in- 
dustry of a man whose many great works will last through all 
ages, thus apparently recognizing the fact that he would en- 
danger his own reputation as a critic if he tried to deny Cicero's 
greatness. However, he goes on to show that these achieve- 
ments were chiefly due to nature and chance, since nature pro- 
vided him with good health and strength down to his old age 
and fortune was kind in giving a peace of long duration favora- 
ble for his writings and an excellent opportunity for sending 
the state in his consulship. All of these are things which have 
nothing to do with Cicero's character but are simply the gifts 



(171) Sen., Suas., VI, 24. 

(172) Sen., Suas., VI, 14. 

(173) Sen., Suas., VI, 14-15: Nam quin Cicero nee tarn timidus fuerit 
ut rogaret Antonium, nee tam stultus ut exorari posse (eumj 
speraret, nemo dubitat excepto Asinio Pollione qui infestissimus 
famae Ciceronis permansit et is etiam occasionem scolasticis alterius 
suasoriae dedit; solent enim scolastici declamitare: deliberat Cicero 
an salutem proniittente Antonio orationes suas comburat. 

Haec inepte ficta cuilibet videri potest. Pollio vult illam veram 
videri; ita enim dixit in ea oratione quam pro Lamia edidit. Asini 
Pollionis. 'Itaque numquam per Ciceronem mora fuit, quin ciurarct 
suas esse quas cupidissime effuderat orationes in Antonium; nuilti- 
plicesque numero et accuratius scriptas illis contrarias edere ac vel 
ipse palam pro contionc rccitare pollicebatur'; adieceratque his alia 
sordidiora multo, ut cuilibet facile liqueret hoc totum adeo falsum 
esse, ut ne ipse quidem Pollio in historiis suis ponere ausus sit. Huic 
certe actioni eius pro Lamia qui interfuerunt negant eum haec 
dixisse — nee enim mentiri sub triumvirorum conscientia sustinebat 
— sed postea conposuisse. 

39 



of kind fortune. The irony is perhaps more subtle than damn- 
ing with faint praise, particularly when rounded off by the 
platitudinous statement that since no mortals are perfect, we 
must judge a man by his outstanding qualities! Pollio then 
ended by saying "And not even his death should I judge a 
pitiable thing unless he himself had thought death so wretched" 
— again giving a skilfully concealed thrust at Cicero's lack of 
fortitude^^^^\ 

In commenting on this passage, Seneca adds that it was 
the cleverest part of Pollio's Histories, for he seems not to have 
praised Cicero, but to have become his opponent, and yet that 
the reader of this account will still have to yield the palm to 
Cicero over Pollio^^'^^\ 

Asinius Pollio manifestly regarded Cicero as unstable in 
character, a man who lost his sense of balance under both favora- 
ble and adverse conditions, and accepted either as inevitable. 
He thus laid himself open to his enemies' attacks, since he 
entered into a quarrel with more spirit than he pursued it^^'^^^ 
These faults were doubtless apparent to other contemporaries, 
who it should be noticed are inclined to omit all reference to 
the character of Cicero and praise only his oratory and patriot- 



(174) Sen., Siias., VI, 24: Pollio quoque Asinius, qui Verrem Ciceronis 
reum fortissime morientem tradidit, Ciceronis mortem solus ex 
omnibus maligne narrat; testimonium tamen quamvis invitus 
plenum ei reddidit. Asini Pollionis. 'Huius ergo viro tot tan- 
tisque operibus mansuris in omne aevum praedicare de ingenio atque 
industria superva[cuum] est. Natura autem atque fortuna pari- 
ter obsecuta est ei, [si] quidem facies decora ad senectutem pros- 
peraque permansit valetiido, tum pax diutina cuius instructus erat 
artibus contigit. namqire ad priscam severitatem iudiciis exactis 
maxima noxiorum multitudo provenit, quos obstrictos patrocinio 
incolumes plerosque habebat. lam felicissima consulatus ei sors 
petendi et gerendi magna munera deum consilio industriaque: 
utinam moderatius secundas res et fortius adversas ferre potuisset! 
namque utraeque cum evenerant ei, mutari eas non posse rebatur. 
inde sunt invidiae tempestates coortae gravissimae, eo certiorque 
inimicis adgrediendi fiducia; maiore enim simultates adpetebat 
animo quam gerebat. Sed quando mortalium nulli virtus perfecta 
contigit, qua maior pars vitae atque ingenii stetit ea iudicandum 
de homine est. Atque ego ne miserandi quidem exitus eum fuisse 
iudicarem, nisi ipse tam miseram mortem putasset.' Adfirmare 
vobis possum nihil esse in historiis eius hoc quern retuli loco disertius, 
ut mihi tunc non laudasse Ciceronem, sed certasse cum Cicerone 
videatur. Nee hoc deterrendi causa dico, ne historias eius legere 
concupiscatis : concupiscite et poenas Ciceroni dabitis. 

(175) Cf. supra, n. 174. 

(176) Sen., Siias., VI, 24. Cf. supra, n. 174. 

40 



ism^'^^\ Quintilian says that Cicero is thought by some to 
have been deficient in courage, but that this was disproved by 
his death, to which he submitted with the noblest fortitude^'''^\ 
This opinion is strengthened by Seneca's statement that Asinius 
PolHo is the only man who does not admit that Cicero died 
bravely'''^'. We know that Pollio was somewhat of a Spartan 
about such matters and never allowed his emotions to interfere 
with the routine of his life. For when Augustus complained 
that Pollio should have held a banquet so soon after the death 
of Gaius Caesar, Asinius wrote back that he had banqueted on 
the day that his own son Herius had died, and how could he be 
expected to show greater grief for a friend than for his own 
child ?^^^°^ Seneca adds that there are great men who do not 
know how to bend to fate, but make trial of their courage in 
adverse circumstances, for Asinius Pollio declaimed within four 
days after the death of his son, thus publishing abroad the 
defiance of a great spirit to its misfortunes. To a man of this 
temperament it is easy to understand how Cicero's death might 
seem ignoble. The undignified flight, the attempts at escape 
by land and by sea, the litter carried to and fro by his ser\'ants, 
the final ignominious death and decapitation by Herennius*^^^\ 
such incidents must have seemed unworthy to Pollio, who would 
doubtless have preferred to see Cicero stay at Rome and meet 
death bravely instead of flying from it. 

Certain critics have attributed Pollio's criticisms to jeal- 
ousy, but it scarcely seems possible that even a man of Asinius's 
self-assurance can have regarded himself as a serious rival of 
Cicero, and the high praise he awards the latter as a figure in 
literature who produced immortal works does not seem to 
give a sound basis for this theory. Seneca describes a Recitatio 
which took place in the house of Messalla, at which Asinius 
Pollio was present, when one of the minor poets was to recite 
the verses of Cornelius Severus about Cicero, and for an intro- 
duction used a line of his own — "Cicero must be mourned and 
the silence of the Latin tongue." Pollio rose and said that he 



(177) Augustus in Macrob. ,5a/., 11,2,4, 18; Plut., C/V ., 49; Suet., Aug.,2&. 

(178) Quint., Xir, 1. 17. 

(179) Sen., Suas., VI, 24. Cf. supra, p. 40 n. 174. 

(180) Sen., Contr., IV, Praef. 4. 

(181) Plut., Cic, 47-48. 

41 



would not listen to a man to whom he seemed dumb and there- 
upon left the house^^^^\ Pollio's action on this occasion does 
not appear to be due to jealousy of Cicero's reputation, but to 
the slight that had been put on his own oratory. That Asinius 
Pollio as well as Brutus and Cahois sometimes criticized Cicero's 
style is evident from Quintilian^^^^\ but since these criticisms 
are not quoted by either Seneca or Quintilian, they must have 
been on minor points of usage, which we have seen was a matter 
of particular concern to the fastidious Pollio. His son Asinius 
Gallus wrote a book comparing his father and Cicero^^^'*\ and 
apparently his family pride got the better of his critical judg- 
ment for he rendered the verdict in his father's favor. 

One of the great services of Pollio to the pursuit of litera- 
ture in his time was his institution of Recitationes or public 
readings by authors of their works^^^^\ This was a marked 
innovation and served to introduce an author to the public, 
for although the interest in letters was very keen in Rome at 
this time the publication of books was difficult and expensive^^^^\ 
The writers were therefore eager to avail themselves of a means 
of becoming better known, and the readings rapidly gained 
success. At first these Recitationes took place only before 
friends, especially invited, but later they were publicly an- 
nounced and were held before great assemblies, either in the 
theatre or at the public baths or Forum, admission being open 
to all. This led to a change in the character of the readings, 
since they had been introduced in the first place with the pur- 
pose of obtaining the criticisms of a select audience, to help 
the author in his final revision of his work; they now became 



(182) Sen., Suas., VI, 27: Is (Sextilius Ena) hanc ipsam proscriptionem 
recitaturus in domo Messalae Corvini PoUionem Asinium advocaver- 
at, et in principio hunc versum non sine assensu recitavit: Deflendus 
Cicero est Latiaeque silentia linguae. Pollio Asinius non aequo 
animo tulit et ait: 'Messala tu quid tibi liberum sit in domo tua 
videris: ego istum auditurus non sum quoi mutus videor;' atque ita 
consurrexit. 

(183) Quint., XII, 1. 22. 

(184) Pliny, Ep., VII, 4, says he read it. 

Suet., Claud., 41, where mention is made of a book by Claudius — 
a "Defence of Cicero against the writings of Asinius Gallus." 

(185) Sen., Contr., IV, Praef. 2: Pollio Asinius .... primus enim 
omnium Romanorum advocatis hominibus scripta sua recitavit. 

(186) See Putnam, G. H., Authors and their Public in Ancient Times, 
Chap. V. 

42 



of such importance that they determined the success of the 
work so recited. By the time of Martial, they had degenerated 
into professional advertising. The author rented a hall, hired 
the chairs and not only issued invitations but paid some of his 
guests to come and applaud him. But during the Augustan 
Age, they were extremely fashionable and all the great men 
of the day attended; even the Princeps himself came and 
listened with interest not only to those who read their poems 
and histories, but also to the discourses and dialogues' ^^^\ 
Pollio started the fashion by reading his own writings^^^\ and 
he was followed by Horace, Vergil and the other great poets of 
the day. 

Another important way in which Pollio stimulated the 
intellectual development of his times was by his patronage of 
literary- men. The political changes which inaugurated the 
Augustan Age were reflected in literature and although this 
period followed closely on the preceding Ciceronian Age there 
was a marked change in the personnel of literary circles. This 
may be explained by the fact that remarkably few writers of 
the Ciceronian times survived to be the contemporaries of 
Vergil. The most famous one is Asinius Pollio, who in his 
youth had been a friend of Catullus, Cinna and Cornelius 
Gallus'^^^^ and now became the patron of Vergil and Horace. 

Augustan poets appear to have formed three groups; one 
around Maecenas, — those who were interested in praising the 
new order of things in Rome and were in a sense court poets. 
To this circle belonged Horace, Vergil and Propertius. The 
second group centred around Messalla, who with Pollio had 
fought for the Republic, and like him had now retired from 
public life. Messalla interested himself more in the niceties of 



(187) Suet., Aug., ?>^: Recitantes et benigne et patienter audiit, nee 
tantum carmina et liistorias seel et orationes et dialogos. 

(188) Sen., Contr., IV, Praef. 2. 

(189) Catullus (87/84-54 B. C.) as a friend of Pollio, see C, 12. 

Cinna (d. 44 B. C.) wrote a Propempticon to Pollio. See Gramm. 
LaL, I, 124 K. This may point to a journey of Pollio to Greece to 
pursue his education. Cf. Kiessling on Hon, C, II, 1. 
Cornelius Callus (09/66-26 B. C.) was also a friend of Pollio. See 
Pollio, ap. Cic, fam., X, 32 where Asinius writing to Cicero says, 
"if you will care to read a Roman drama ask mv friend Cornelius 
Callus for it." This was written in June, 43 B. C. when Asinius 
Pollio was in Spain and Callus was acting as his literary representa- 
tive in Rome. 

43 



language and became the patron of the circle of poets associated 
with Tibullus, which did not feel as strong imperial enthusiasm 
as the group under Maecenas's patronage. Asinius Pollio, the 
third great patron of literature, provided opportunities for 
readings from works either finished or in progress, and en- 
couraged discussion and criticism, setting a very high standard 
of taste in such matters, since he was considered one of the best 
contemporary judges of poetry. Horace mentions him among 
the names of the few friends whose appreciation of his poems 
he values^^^\ and Vergil in his third eclogue has one of his 
shepherds make the boast — "Pollio loves my verse, all rustic 
though it be"^^^^^ These two poets, although belonging to 
the imperial literary circle of Maecenas, were both indebted to 
Pollio for services he had rendered them,' Vergil for the return 
of his Mantuan farm, which had been confiscated for allotment 
to veterans and restored to him through Pollio 's influence as 
Antony's prefect in Transpadane Gaul in 41 B. C.^'^^^ The 
numerous allusions to Pollio in the eclogues are noteworthy, 
since the formal type of poetry written by Vergil does not as 
readily admit references to friends as the more informal poems 
of Horace, who gives the place of honor at the beginning of his 
second book to an ode celebrating the undying laurels won by 
Pollio in his triumph in Dalmatia. Although the specific pur- 
pose of the poem is to praise Pollio 's Histories with enthusiastic 
appreciation, Horace also emphasizes the distinction won by 
Asinius as a tragic poet and his noble defence of others both in 
court and senate^^^^\ Vergil, likewise, introduces his VHI*^ 
Eclogue with a preface addressed to Pollio, celebrating his 
triumphal return from the Dalmatian campaign and asking if 
he will ever be permitted to honor Asinius Pollio 's deeds in song 
as well as to spread through all the world his verse, "the only 
verse that deserves the buskin of Sophocles" ^^^'^^ This praise 
of the tragedies of Asinius is carried farther when Vergil asks 



(190) Hor., Sat., I, 10. 85. 

(191) Verg., Buc, III, 84. 

(192) Verg., Buc, 1. Cf. supra, p. 21. Pollio is also supposed to have 
given Vergil a slave whom the poet had admired. See Buc, II 
and Scholia. 

(193) Hon, C, II, 1. 

(194) Verg., Buc, VIII, 10. 

44 



that PoUio allow the ivy of poetr>' to twine among the con- 
queror's bays upon his brow. 

Pollio is again honored in the IV'** Eclogue, for it is in his 
consulship that a wondrous child is to be bom, who is to be 
king of the world in the coming golden age, or new era of peace. 
The language used in this poem is so vague and indefinite that 
the child has been variously identified as a son of Pollio, of 
Octavian, of Antony and Octavia, or as a Messiah, possibly 
Christ himself. It seems more probable that the child is to 
be the son of Octavian, who iiau ^-^^ely married Scribonia, 
rather than of Pollio, whose chief glory would appear to consist 
in the fact that the child is to be bom in his consulship, or of 
Antony; for the child bom to Octavia in this year was that of 
her first husband, Marcellus. The great difficulty with this 
interpretation is that Vergil should have allowed his poem 
to stand unchanged after the child of Octavian was bom a girl 
Qulia) instead of a boy. Because of the striking resemblance 
of the language of this eclogue to descriptions in the Hebrew 
prophets, especially Isaiah, it has been thought that Vergil 
was prophesying the coming of Christ. However, there does 
not seem to be sufficient reason to connect the legends em- 
ployed by Vergil with the prophecies of the Old Testament, 
since the idea of the advent of a great and beneficent ruler 
of the world has been almost as universal as that of the com- 
ing of an age of peace. Vergil's language, as Warde Fowler 
points out, could scarcely apply to an abstraction but is par- 
ticularly appropriate for a real mother and a real child^*^'''\ 

The generally accepted tradition that the child was a son 
of Asinius Pollio is doubtless due to the fact that the latter is 
the only mortal referred to by name in the poem and also to the 
story of Asconius that Asinius Callus, the son of Pollio, asserted 
that he (Callus) was the puer of this Eclogue**^®'. Asinius 
Callus was the eldest son of Pollio^*^^\ and was bom in 39 B. C. 



(195) J. B. Mayor, W. Warde Fowler, R. S. Conway, Virgil's Messianic 
Eclogue, p. 79. 

(196) Servius, ad Eel., IV, 11. 

(197) Sometime before 43 B. C. Pollio had married Quintia the daughter 
of Lucius Quintius, a man of equestrian rank who seems to have 
been regarded as a po])ular demagogue in opposition to the sena- 
torial party, Cic., Brutus, LXII, 223: pro A. Cluertt, 28 et seq. He 
was fourth on the list of those i)roscribcd in Xovcmbcr, 43, and is 

45 



about the time of his father's capture of the city Salonae from 
the Parthini in Dalmatia and the name Saloninus was given to 
him as an agnomen to celebrate this victory ^^^^\ As his brother 
Herius Asinius died when a boy^^^^.\ Asinius Gallus was the only 
son left to succeed his father. He ^eld many minor offices under 
Augustus and was consul in 8 Jr}. C. serving as procotisul of 
Asia two years later {C. I. L., Ill, 7118). He was a noted 
orator and writer, and one of his works was the comparison 
between his father and Cicero ment'oned above '^''^^ By his 
marriage with Vipsania Agrippina, Gallus had five sons, C. 
Asinius Pollio, M. Asinius Agrippa, Sex. Asinius Celer, Asinius 
Gallus and Asinius Saloninus. As he had incurred the ill-will 
of Tiberius not only by his marriage but by certain remarks 
made in the Senate (Tac, Ann., I, 12) he was condemned in 
30 A. D., but kept in prison until his death by starvation in 
33 A. D}^^^\ Since Augustus when considering possible suc- 
cessors to the principate had discarded him as one who had am- 
bition but inferior ability, and had chosen Tiberius instead, there 



mentioned by Appian in this connection as the father-in-law of 
Asinius Pollio, Appian, B. C, IV, 12. 27. Also supra, p. 21. By 
this marriage Pollio had three children, two sons, C. Asinius Gallus 
Saloninus, Herius Asinius and a daughter, Asinia, who married M. 
Claudius Marcellus Aeserninus and whose son was a great favorite 
of his grandfather, Seneca, Contr., IV, Praef., 3; Tac., Ann., Ill, 11; 
XIV, 40; Suet., Aug., 43. 

(198) Servius, ad Verg. Biic, IV, 1: Asinius Pollio, ductor Germanici 
exercitus, cum post captam Salonam, .... eodem anno sus- 
cepit filium quem a capta civitate Saloninum vocavit, cui nunc 
Vergilius genethliacon dicit. 

Schol. Acron ad Hor., C. II, 1. 15: Salonas enim Pollio Dalmaturum 
ceperat civitatem, unde et filium suum eo quod natus ibi (est quando 
ibi) erat, Saloninum appellavit. 

There seems to be some doubt as to whether these were two dif- 
ferent sons or whether the name Saloninus was given to Asinius 
Gallus as an agnomen. In accepting this latter view, there is no 
explanation for the fact that Asinius Gallus never used the name; 
he did, however, give it as a cognomen to one of his sons. 

(199) Sen., Contr., IV, Praef. 4: Memini intra quartum diem quam Herium 
filium amiserat declamare eum nobis. Praef. 5: rescripsit Pollio: 
'eo die cenavi quo Herium filium amisi.' 

(200) Plin., Ep., VII, 4. 4: Legebantur in Laurentino mihi libri Asini 
Galli de comparatione patris et Ciceronis. 

Cf. supra, p. 42. 

(201) Tac, Ann., VI, 23: Isdem consulibus Asinii Galli mors vulgatur, 
quem egestate cibi peremptum haud dubium, sponte vel necessitate, 
incertum habebatur. 

Suet., De Or., 11: Gaius Asinius Gallus orator Asini Pollionis filius, 
cuius etiam Vergilius meminit, diris a Tiberio suppliciis enecatur. 

46 



had been friction between the rivals'"°"\ Callus's marriage to 
Vipsania after Augustus had forced Tiberius to divorce her, had 
been another reason for hostility ^^°^'. There is evidence that 
Callus had made himself as disagreeable as he could to the 
second princeps^^^'^\ and it would have been perfectly possible 
for him to add to the emperor's unpopularity by spreading the 
stor}^ that he himself had been destined to be the saviour of the 
world. Although this was only a generation after Vergil, the 
identification of the child of the poem was apparently so un- 
certain that Callus could thus claim the honor for himself. 



(202) Tac, Ann., I, 13. 

(203) Tac, Ann., I, 12. 

(204) Tac, Ann., I, 18. 



47 



CHAPTER V. The Writings of Pollio. 

Of Pollio's own writings very little remains — the only frag- 
ment of his poetry is the half -verse "Veneris antistita Cupris," 
quoted by Charisius {Gramm. Lat., I, 100, 24 K) in support of 
the feminine form antistita; the spelling Cupris for Cypris shows 
Pollio's fondness for archaisms. 

Since we know from Horace and Vergil that Pollio in his 
later years^^^^^ wrote tragedies modelled on the Attic drama, 
which were not only published but acted in the theatre ^"'^^ it 
is quite possible that this half-verse may have come from one of 
these, and not from a lyric poem^^^'^'. It is perhaps natural 
that little of his poetry has survived because Pollio was one of 
those who, like other public men, wrote verse as a relaxation 
from the cares of state^'^*\ but whose reputation as a poet 
diminished as time went on and he was no longer judged by the 
kindly estimate of his admiring friends. 

Horace, who wrote that the glory of the Attic stage would 
be revived with the publication of Pollio's tragedies, ^^*^^^ and 
Vergil, according to whom Pollio alone was worthy to be com- 
pared with Sophocles ^^^°\ might naturally be expected to show 
some prejudice in favor of their patron. Vergil indeed refers 



(205) From the approximate dates of the poems of Vergil and Horace 
referring to Pollio's tragedies, the latter must have been written 
between 39 and 29 B. C. 

(206) Hor., C, II, 1. 9: 

Paullum severae Musa tragoediae 
Desit theatris: mox ubi publicas 
Res ordinaris, grande munus 
Cecropio repetes cothumo. 
Hor., S.,l, 10. 42: 

Pollio regum 

Facta canit pede ter percusso; 

(207) Hamaker, in Thorbecke, p. 128 suggests that perhaps it came from 
a chorus sung by the priests of Venus. 

(208) Pliny, Ep., V, 3. 5. 

(209) Hor., C, II, 1. 9. 

(210) Verg., Buc, VIII, 9: 

. . . . ut liceat totum mihi ferre per orbem 
Sola Sophocleo tua carmina digna cotumo? 

48 



to Pollio as the author of "nova carmina"^""\ a phrase which 
might mean "original" in contrast to his patronage of poets, 
or new in subject matter or style. 

Two or three generations later Pliny simply mentions 
him in a long list of more than twenty writers whose verse- 
making was secondary to other weightier matters; Tacitus^^'^^ 
considers him dry and harsh because his style was modelled on 
Accius and Pacuvius, and says that none of Pollio's works is 
ranked with the Medea of Ovid or the Thyestes of Varius^"'"'*. 
By the time of Quintilian, Pollio's tragedies must have been 
forgotten, at any rate Quintilian does not mention him when 
he gives a list of Roman tragic poets ^"^"*\ 

The loss of these tragedies is perhaps not a very serious 
matter, but the similar fate of his Histories is a much greater 
calamity, as they covered the transition period from Republic 
to Principate and dealt with the civil wars between Pompey and 
Caesar from the point of view of a contemporary and an actual 
eye-witness of many of the events recorded. Since the His- 
tories of Pollio have entirely disappeared, and there remains 
only a brief summary of the later books of Livy which dealt 
with this same period, the sole continuous contemporary narra- 
tive of the last days of the Roman Republic is that given by 
Caesar in his Commentaries on the Civil War. This account 
may be supplemented to a certain extent by the correspondence 
of Cicero, the histories of Appian and the Roman biographies 
of the later Greek writer Plutarch, both of whom, as we shall 
see, used the Histories of Pollio as one of their sources. These 
histories, according to Horace, began with the consulship of 
Metellus and Afranius in 60 B. C.^"^^\ this year doubtless, hav- 



(211) Verg., Buc, III, 84-86: 

Pollio amat nostram, quamvis est rustica musani: 
Pollio et ipse facit nova carmina; 

(212) Tac., Dial., 21. 29. 

(213) Tac., Dial., 12. 24: Plures hodie rcperics qui Ciceronis gloriam 
quam qui V^ergilii detrectent, nee ullus Asinii ant Messallae liber 
tam inlustris est quam Medea Ovidii aut Varii Thyestes. 

(214) Quint., X, 1. 87. 

(215) Hor., C, II, 1. 1— 

Motum ex Metcllo consule civicum 
Bcllique causas et vitia et modos 
Ludumque Fortunae gravesque 
Principum amicitias ct arma 
Nondum exjjiatis uncta cruoribus, 

49 



ing been chosen because it marked the formation of the first 
Triumvirate by Caesar, Pompey and Crassus. We learn 
further from Suidas^^^^^ that they were written in seventeen 
books and this is practically all the definite information we have 
from ancient writers in regard to the Histories of Pollio. It 
has, therefore, been left to modem critics to discover traces of 
these lost books in the later historians of Rome. The first in 
this field was J. R. Thorbecke, who wrote in 1820 a monograph 
on the life and writings of Asinius Pollio ^^^'^\ This work, which 
discussed the evidence in regard to the extent of Pollio's His- 
tories, the arrangement of the material into books, and its use 
by later historians, has formed the foundation for many of the 
later studies on the same subject, especially those of Aulard and 
Thouret^^^^\ Thorbecke also considered in great detail the 
only existing fragment of Pollio's writings — that quoted by 



Periculosae plenum opus aleae, 
Tractas et incedis per ignes 
Suppositos cineri doloso. 
Schol. Porph. ad Hor., C, II, 1: Haec ode ad Asinium Pollionem 
consularem virum et triumphalem scripta est, qua hortatur eum, 
ut, omisso tragoediarum scribendarum studio, inchoatum historiae 
opus consumet, ac deinde in parecbasi (id est in translatione) 
bellorum civilium calamitatem refert. 
See also Val. Max., VIII, 13. 4. 

(216) Suidas, s. v. Affivios noDWicov. A(jivio? Tlooikioov, 

'PoofxaWi, 'iffTopia? 'PoopiaiHa? GvvEta^Ev £v /3t/3Xioi? 

i8,\ ovTo? npwTos 'EXkj]viH7)v loropiav 'PoopiaiHms 

ffweypatf^aro. 

Teuffel, (§221, 3) believes that the last part of this does not apply 
to Asinius Pollio but to some other author, possibly Pompeius 
Trogus. Under the name of Pollio of Tralles, a sophist and phi- 
losopher and perhaps a freedman of Asinius Pollio, Suidas says: 

TtEpi rov ifxq)v\iov rr/s ^PoofArfS rroXi/xov ov STToXejUTfffav 

Kmffap rt' nai IIo/ATrTjio? which evidently refers to the 
Histories of Asinius Pollio. 

Thouret, G., "De Cicerone, Asinio Pollione, C. Oppio rerum Caesa- 
rianarum scriptoribus", Leipziger Studien, I, 1878, pp. 325-6 does 
not agree with Teuffel that this Pollio of Tralles could be a freedman 
of Asinius Pollio, since he would then have had only the name 
Asinius. He could find no instance of an equestrian cognomen 
such as Pollio being given to a freedman. 

(217) Thorbecke, J. R., Commentatio de C. Asinii PoUionis Vita et Studiis 
Doctrinae, Leyden, 1820. 

(218) Aulard, F. A., de Caii Asinii PoUionis vita et scriptis, Paris, 1877. 
Thouret, op. cit., pp. 324-346. 

50 



Seneca^-'" - in an attempt to form an opinion of his literary 
style and language. Since Thorbecke's day, however, a great 
advance has been made in the study of the sources of Appian's 
History of the Civil Wars and Plutarch's Biographies of Caesar 
and Pompey, and it has been established quite clearly, I think, 
that they both drew to a great extent on the writings of Asinius 
Pollio. We are, therefore, better able than Thorbecke to 
reconstruct the lost histories, even if in a more or less fragmen- 
tary manner. 

Some of the later writers on the sources of Appian are 
J. A. Wijnne who wrote in 1855, and P. Bailleu, in 1874 ^ . 
On Plutarch we have H. W. G. Peter's work written in 1865^^"^^ 
The best and the latest work on Appian is that of E. 
Schwartz ^^-^\ but his article is concerned more with destroying 
the conclusions of his predecessors than in throwing any new 
lieht on the sources. In 1896, E. Komemann published an 
article on the historical writings of Asinius Pollio ^ , which is 
the most complete and exhaustive handling of the subject so 
far written. His summing up of the views of the earlier waiters 
on Pollio and the compilation of all the extracts from Appian, 
Plutarch and the other historians which he thinks were derived 
from Asinius, form the most valuable part of the work, for 
Komemann's own conclusions often go beyond the bounds of 
probability. He has collected one hundred and thirty-one 
extracts which he claims can be traced back to Asinius Pollio. 
The only direct quotation is the estimate of Cicero repeated by 
Seneca {Suas., VI, 24), which has been mentioned above^-"''^ 
an indirect quotation from the third book of Pollio's Histories 
occurs in Valerius Maximus (VIII, 1314). The other extracts 
are from Plutarch, Appian and Suetonius, and although none 



(219) Sen., Suas., VI, 26. .. 

(220) Wijnne, J. A., De Fide el Auctorilale Appiani tn Bellts Romanoriim 
Civilibus Enurratidis, CjTon{ng,en, 1855. 

Bailleu, P., Quoitiodo Appinnus in bellorum civilium Itbns II-V 
usu sit Asinii Pollionis hisloriis, Gottinjjcn, 1874. 

(221) Peter, H. W. G., Die Quellen Plutarchs in den Biographieen der 
Rome'r, Halle, 1865. „ , ^ , .j- 

(222) Schwartz, E., "Appianus", Pauly-Wissowa, Real-Encyclopadte 
der Classischen Allertumswisscnschaft. _ . 

(223) Kornemann, E., Die Historische Schriftslellerei des C. Asintus 
Pollio, Leipzig, 189G. Reprinted from Jahrbiicher fur Classtsche 
Philotogie, Supplementband 22, pp. 672-691. 

(224) Cf. supra., p. 39. 

51 



of these three states definitely that he used Asinius Pollio's 
Histories as a source for these particular passages, they very 
often mention Pollio in connection with the events described. 
If the ancient historians had been more careful in giving 
the sources they used, there would doubtless be more traces 
of the Histories of Asinius Pollio among the later writers on 
Roman events. Plutarch mentions Pollio as a source in his 
lives of Pompey and Caesar, but he may also have drawn on 
him for the lives of Crassus, Cato the Younger, Cicero, Antony 
and Brutus. According to Komemann^^""^^ chapters 4-9, 11-14 
of the Life of Antony which are more favorable to Antony than 
the latter part, where Plutarch has used Caesar, must have 
been from Asinius Pollio, especially since the resemblance 
between these chapters and Appian^^^^^ gives an added reason 
for believing Pollio to have been the source, while Plutarch's 
mention of Pollio by name in the Battle of Pharsalia and in 
connection with the revolt of Dolabella^^^''^ points in the same 
direction. Kornemann believes he can detect both the direct 
and indirect use of Pollio in the Lives of Brutus and of Cato 
Minor, the former where there is agreement between Plutarch 
and Appian^^^^\ the latter where the difference in detail or 
interpretation^^^^^ may reflect Pollio's account through the 
medium of a later writer ^^^°\ Since Kornemann does not 
consider the alternative that these later passages may have been 
derived from authors who made no use of Pollio, and since his 
reasoning is purely hypothetical, it hardly seems necessary to 
consider these passages in detail. From the many Latin writers 
whose accounts Appian had collected for the Battle of Phar- 
salia he refers to Asinius alone by name, as if he considered him 
more trustworthy than the others ^^^^\ This book of Appian 
covers the period of the struggle between Pompey and Caesar, 
which formed the principal theme of Pollio's Histories. Appi- 



(225) Kornemann, op. cit., pp. 579-580. 

(226) Plut., yl«/., 5. App.,-5. C, II, 33. 
Plut., Ant., 7. App., B. C, II, 59. 
Plut., Ant., 13. App., B. C, II, 114. 

(227) Plut., Ant., 7. 

(228) Plut., Cato Min., 68-70. App., B. C, II, 98-99. 

(229) Plut., Brutus, 16. App., B. C, II, 116. 

(230) Kornemann, op. cit., pp. 581-583. 

(231) App., B. C, II, 70 and 82. 

52 



an's fair-minded judj^ent of Brutus and the other conspirators 
recalls the respect and admiration with which Pollio mentioned 
them and may well be derived from his account. In Books 
III-V Appian includes Asinius Pollio among his sources, and 
must have followed him ver>' closely, for he makes no mention 
of the defeat of Pollio in Spain ^-^^\ which Dio narrates at great 
length, although Appian gives Pollio a very prominent part 
in the other events described ■-■''•'^\ The source of Appian. Books 
III-V, was undoubtedly the work of a follower of Antony, since 
Cicero's orations against the former are passed over in two 
Chapters (III, 52-53) while Piso's defence of Antony is elabo- 
rated to fill seven (III, 54-60) ^"■'^■'\ As Pollio was a supporter 
of Antony, this partisan attitude may probably be traced back 
to him. The discussion of Antony's giving up the siege of 
Mutina (Appian, B.C., Ill, 72), contrary' to the advice of those 
about him^"""^"^', is abnost identical in its estimate of this incident 
with the letter written by Pollio to Cicero ^^■'®', in which he 
bewails the action of Antony. Again in Book V we find obvious 
traces of Pollio in the story of the Perusine War (V, 19-66), 
since the description gives such details and intimate knowledge 
of places and events that the writer must have not only taken 
part in the war but in the Council of the leaders^-^'\ The 
account also appears to have been written around Pollio as a 
central figure. Another argument in favor of regarding Pollio 
as the source of Appian's fifth book is the hatred and contempt 
with which Plancus is referred to all through the book (V, 35, 50, 
55, 144), and Pollio's opposition to Plancus was well known ^"•'^^^ 
The picture of Cicero given by Appian is anything but flatter- 
ing, and we are led to the conclusion that the source of Appian 
must have treated Cicero with the same contempt which was 
skilfully concealed in Pollio's estimate of the great orator ^-^^\ 
A great part of Appian's fifth book is drawn from the Commen- 
taries of Octavian yet the pro-Antonian sentiments expressed 



(232) Wijnnc, op. cil., p. GO. 

(233) App., B. C, III, 46, 74, 81, 97; IV, 12, 27, 84. 

(234) Bailleu, op. cit., pp. 31-35. 

(235) Kornemann, op. cit., p. 655. 

(236) Pollio, ap. Cic, Jam., X, 33. 4. 

(237) Bailleu, op. cit., pp. 36-38. 

(238) Cf. supra, p. 31. 

(239) Cf. supra, p. 39. 

53 



in this book could not have come from Caesar; Bailleu, there- 
fore, believes that Appian drew these also from Pollio^^'**^\ 

Most critics believe that Appian and Plutarch used a 
common Greek source for this period of the civil war, as their 
words in relating the same episodes are almost identical, and 
it is quite improbable that they both translated the Latin by 
the same Greek words or combined two authors such as Livy 
and Diodorus. This agreement is fovmd not only in their 
narration of events but also of reasons, thoughts and motives^^^^\ 
The grounds for believing that Pollio's history was this common 
source are that the incidents in which Pollio himself took part 
are told in great detail and were evidently based on the account 
of an eyewitness. Examples of such descriptions arc the cross- 
ing of the Rubicon by Caesar (Plutarch, Caes., 32; Appian, 
B. C, II, 35); the departure of Cato from Sicily (Appian, 
B. C, II, 40 et seq. ; Plutarch, Cato, 53) ; the saving of the cavalry 
in the Second African campaign (Plutarch, Caes., 52); the first 
African campaign under Curio (Appian, B. C, II, 44-46) and 
the description of the battle of Munda (Appian, B. C, II, 104; 
Plutarch, Caes., 56). Other events in which Pollio did not take 
part are disposed of in a few summary sentences, even though 
they were evidently of greater importance than those which 
Appian and Plutarch narrate with such detail; an example of 
this is shown in the treatment of Caesar's first Spanish cam- 
paign, ^"'^^^ where his own detailed account {B. C, I, 37-87) was 
evidently not used by the later historians. Another reason for 
believing that Appian and Plutarch used Pollio as a source is 
that they continually mention his presence at different events 
of the wars, although he was not as prominent as many of 
Caesar's other officers. Asinius Pollio alone is mentioned by 
name in Plutarch {Caes., 32) among the comrades of Caesar 
when he crossed the Rubicon. They both cite his statement as 
to the number of the dead after the battle of Pharsalia, as well 



(240) Bailleu, op. cit., p. 51. 

(241) App., B. C, II, 102 and Plut., Caes., 55. Appian could not have 
used Plutarch as a source, for although there are some similar pas- 
sages there are many more that are not only dissimilar but openly 
contradictorj'. The resemblances, therefore, must be explained 
by the fact that they used the same sources — Pollio, Caesar and 
Livy. See Wijnne, op. cit., p. 53. 

(242) Appian, B. C, II, 42-43; Plutarch, Caes., 36. 

54 



as a question asked by Caesar of one of his centurions at that 
time^^*^\ A negative argument is that they did not use Caesar 
as a source, since their version of events differs from that in 
his writings. The remarkable similarity between Appian and 
Plutarch begins with the year of the formation of the first 
triumvirate which Horace tells us was the starting point for 
Pollio's Htstories^^^'^K 

Although there is general agreement that Appian and 
Plutarch used Asinius Pollio as a source, the critics divide into 
two main groups on the question of whether these Greek writers 
drew from Pollio's Histories directly (in Latin or full Greek 
translation), or through a Greek intermediate source ^^'^^\ 
Bailleu belongs to the first group who hold that Appian and 
Plutarch drew directly from Pollio and that he was the sole 
source for Book II of Appian's Civil Wars, whereas Plutarch 
used both Asinius Pollio and Livy^^'*^\ Thouret on the other 
hand, believes that Appian and Plutarch in describing the 
events of the civil war between Caesar and Pompey used some 
Greek writer who had made a brief epitome of this particular 
part of Pollio's Histories, since both the Greek historians (App., 
B. C, II, 102; Plut., Caes., 55) make a stupid mistake about the 
census in Rome before and after the civil wars — a mistake which 
could not have been copied from any Roman contemporary 
writer'^^'^^ Komemann does not think this passage and the 
others cited by Thouret ^■^'*^^ prove that the mistakes imply an 
intermediate source, since they are chiefly found in places where 
Asinius Pollio was not an eye-witness of events, and therefore 
might have been misinformed, while other mistakes are those 
of incorrect chronology, which may be explained as due to a 
sacrifice of historical truth to artistic effect ^^"^^^ a common failing 
among ancient historians. Still another objection to Thouret's 
argument is that Appian is capable of making mistakes in his 
own version, for in comparing the accounts of Appian, {B. C, 

(243) Plut., Pomp., 72; Caes., 46; App., B. C, II, 82. 

(244) Cf. supra, p. 49. 

(245) Kornemann, op. cit., p. 560. 

(246) Bailleu, op. cit., pp. 25-30. 

(247) Thouret, op. at., p. 343. 

(248) Plut., Caes., 60. App., B. C, II, 107. 
Plut., Pomp., 80. App., B. C, II, 90. 
Plut., Ant., 7. App., B. C, II, 59. 

(249) Kornemann, op. cit., p. 574. 

55 



II, 143-148) and Suetonius {Caes., 84) on Caesar's funeral, it is 
evident that they came from the same source, since the oration 
of Antony is identical in both, even to the extent of quoting the 
same verse from Pacuvius, but Appian has exaggerations not 
found in Suetonius^^^^\ By transforming plans into actual 
deeds, to add interest ^^'^^\ Appian has apparently changed the 
account given in the source. 

Thouret believes that, although in his later books (III-V) 
Appian drew from Pollio directly, he combined this material 
with some from other sources, in certain places reflecting the 
Commentaries of Octavian^^^^^ and in others those of Messalla. 
These passages, he thinks, are written in a wordy style and are 
full of mistakes, '^°^^ showing that Appian was not very success- 
ful in combining his sources, since these places form a contrast 
to the more accurate account in the early part of his histories. 
Thouret explains the difference by believing that the earlier 
books were taken from a compact epitome which was also used 
by Plutarch, since it is obvious that the latter had never seen 
the Histories of Pollio, as he thought they were written in 
Greek ^^^*\ This might, however, be explained by the hypothe- 
sis that Plutarch used them in a Greek translation. Thouret's 
strongest point is the one he makes about the comparative 
length of the two accounts of the Civil Wars, Pollio 's in seven- 
teen books and Appian's in five, which proves to him that 
Asinius dealt with the civil war period much more fully than 
Appian, ^^^^^ and that if the latter had condensed his account, 
it would seem almost miraculous that both he and Plutarch 
should have cut the original down to almost identical lengths 
and made use of identical facts^^^^\ This leads him to believe 
that Appian for Book II of his Civil Wars drew from the same 



(250) Kornemann, op. cit., p. 576. 

(251) App., B. C, II, 147 represents the mob as actually burning the 
Curia instead of planning to do it as in Suet, and Dio, XLIV, 35-52; 
same true of houses of conspirators. 

(252) Cf. App., B. C, III, 95; Suet., Aug., 27. 

(253) Thouret, op. cit., pp. 338-345. 

(254) Thouret, op. cit., p. 345. 

(255) Ibid., p. 342. 

(256) Whether this similarity extended beyond the death of Caesar can- 
not be told, as we have none of Plutarch's Lives after the Brutus 
and Antony with which to compare App., B. C, III-V. 

56 



source as Plutarcli and tliat this was a Greek epitome of Pollio's 
Histories^-'^'^\ 

Judeich and Otto ^"^^ go beyond Thouret in identifying 
Strabo's Hypomnemata as the Greek intermediate source from 
which Appian and Plutarch drew, since Strabo is cited in Plu- 
tarch (Caes., 63). Kornemann, however, has shown ^""^^ that 
Plutarch used two or more contemporary sources, Livy and 
Strabo, as well as Asinius Pollio, and that in the passages where 
he used the two former, his account differs from that of Appian, 
who used only Pollio ^"^°^ He, therefore does not believe that 
Judeich 's hypothesis can be accepted. 

Appian and Plutarch are the principal borrowers from the 
lost Histories of Pollio, but Kornemann finds traces of this 
same source in other historians of the years 60-44 B.C., namely 
Dio Cassius, Suetonius, Valerius Maximus, Nicolaus of Damas- 
cus and Lucan. Of these, Dio uses Livy as his principal source 
but draws also on the writings of Julius Caesar, but since Korne- 
mann believes that Livy had seen the work of Asinius Pollio, 
he considers that he is thus reflected in Dio, especially in the 
latter part of the civil war and the battles in the East, particu- 
larly Pharsalia,^"^^^ as well as in Suetonius, who also used Livy, 
but that there is evidence also for the direct use of Pollio's His- 
taries^^^^\ since many quotations and opinions are attributed 
to him by Suetonius ^^^'^\ Bailleu agrees that Livy was used 



(257) Vollgraff, Greek Writers of Roman History, Leyden, 1880, follows 
Thouret. 

(258) Judeich, W. Ciisar itti Orient, Leipzig, 1885. 

Otto, P., "Quacst. Strabonianae", Leipziger Studien, XT, Suppl. 
(1889), pp. 245-268. 

(259) Kornemann, op. cil., p. 566. 

(260) App., B. C, II, 116 Plut., Caes., 63. 

Kornemann pp. 566-572 argues that Plutarch was forced to use 
Strabo and Livy to fill in the gap between his first source, Sallust, 
who ended with the year 67 B. C. and Pollio, whose histories did 
not cover the events before 60 B. C. but that beginning with Ch. 13, 
Plutarch used Pollio as his chief source with only occasional inci- 
dents from the larger histories, since in this chapter there is a de- 
scription of the formation of the triumvirate which reflects Pollio's 
view that with this the balance in the state was lost and it was 
therefore the cause of the later Civil War between Pompey and 
Caesar. 

(261) Kornemann, op. cil., p. 504. 

(262) Ibid., p. 585. 

(263) Divus lulius, 30; Ibid., 55, Suetonius quotes another remark of 
Pollio's about the Battle of Munda. 

57 



by both Dio and Suetonius and like Komemann thinks that 
Suetonius used Asinius Pollio as well^^^*\ 

Valerius Maximus used Pollio directly while Nicolaus of 
Damascus, as may be seen from his similarity to Appian and 
Plutarch, used not only Pollio but Livy, and consequently 
Nicolaus's account of Caesar's murder is more like that of Sue- 
tonius, embellished with a few additions from his own imagi- 
nation ^2^^\ 

One famous version of the events of this period is Lucan's 
historical poem the Pharsalia. As it was written little more 
than a century after the events which it describes, and made 
use of sources now lost to us, the provenance of the historical 
incidents embedded in the poem has been the subject of many 
inquiries. All critics agree that Livy was the principal source, 
but Ussani^^^^^ considers Pollio as one of the additional sources, 
since certain passages in the Pharsalia agree closely with Appian 
and Plutarch, especially in the description of the crossing of 
the Rubicon ^^^'^^ Pichon who does not consider this a strong 
argument for the use of an identical source suggests that such 
a striking anecdote may have been one of the loci communes of 
Roman historiography found everywhere, and may even have 
been a subject for the suasoriae of the rhetorical schools ^^®^\ 
Ussani further detects the use of Pollio in the judgment of 
the character of Curio ^^^^^ but according to Pichon these charac- 
teristics were sufficiently well-known to have appeared in any 
contemporary historian, Livy as well as Pollio ^^''°\ and he does 
not believe that it is possible to trace any source other than 
Livy in the Pharsalia of Lucan^^'^^\ 

If the question of the use of Pollio by other writers has 



(264) Bailleu, p. 23 shows that in regard to the hatred of the Optimates 
incurred by Caesar, their conspiracy and his death, the four sources, 
Appian, Plutarch, Dio and Suetonius divide into pairs — Plutarch 
and Appian giving one version and Dio and Suetonius another. 
App., B. C, II, 106-117; Plut., Caes., 57-66. Dio, XLIV, 1-19; 
wSuet., Caes., 76-82. 

(265) Komemann, op. cit., p. 587. 

(266) Ussani. V., Sul valorc storico del poema Lticaneo, Roma, 1903, pp. 25- 
42. 

(267) Lucan, Phars., I, 183-231; App., B. C, II, 35; Plut., Caes., 32. 

(268) Pichon, R., Les sources de Lucain, Paris, 1912, pp. 95-97. 

(269) Lucan, Phars., IV, 799-824. 

(270) Pichon, op. cit., p. 93. 

(271) Ibid., p. 265. 

58 



given rise to much discussion, the question as to the exact 
length of time covered by PolHo's Histories is no less a disputed 
one. Since they were written in seventeen books'^^\ the 
period from 60-44 B. C. would allow a book for each year, if 
Pollio adopted the same practice as Caesar followed in writing 
his Commentaries. For this reason, some critics have held the 
opinion that the Histories did not extend beyond the Ides of 
March, 44, especially since the death of the great dictator might 
seem to Pollio a suitable point at which to close his discussion 
of Caesar's part in the Civil Wars. 

According to Thouret'^^^^ the period covered by the ex- 
tracts now extant is only seven years (49-43 B. C.) ^or he be- 
lieves that the passage quoted by Valerius Maximus^" ^ refer- 
ring to an incident in Spain, must belong to a narrative of Cae- 
sar's campaign there in 49 B. C. As this was in the third book 
of Pollio's Histories, the first two books must have covered a 
period of eleven years; this, however, involves a difficulty in 
the proportion of the Histories, for if Asinius Pollio had nar- 
rated the events of eleven or twelve years and was still only 
in his third book, what purpose could he have had in filling 
fourteen books with the events of the remaining eight years? 
Thouret surmounts the difficulty by assuming that Asinius 
treated the events beginning with 49 B. C. with more detail 
since they were the most important for the development of the 
Civil War between Pompey and Julius Caesar which was the 
immediate field of his Histories. His first two books would be, 
therefore, a mere introduction to the main events of the Civil 
War which filled Books III-XVII, and the incidents of the 
Gallic campaign would have been treated in a summary manner 
and only mentioned when the sequence of later events required 
j^(27o) Komemann thinks it most unlikely that Pollio would 



(272) C/. supra, p. 50. 

(273) Thouret, op. cit., pp. 329-330. 

(274) Cf. supra., p. 51. , , • • 

(275) The suggestion made by Thorlx>cke, op. cit., p. 118, that Asinius 
Pollio's remark about the width of the Rhine quoted in Strabo, C, 
IV, 3. 3. must have come from a narrative of the events of the Gallic 
War is apparently disproved by the fact that the accounts of these 
wars given in later writers do not differ from Caesar's own account. 
As we know that these historians used both Caesar and Asinius 
as sources, there would in all probability have been some divergence 
in the accounts if they had dealt with the same events. It is, there- 

59 



have dealt with such important years as those from 60-49 B. C. 
in two books and he is, therefore led to the conclusion that the 
incident in Spain does not refer to Caesar's Spanish campaign 
in 49 B. C. but formed part of an account of his pro-consulship 
there in 61-60 B. C. This would make a much more reasonable 
division of the seventeen books of Pollio's Histories with Books 
I-II as a general introduction to his history of the civil wars and 
Books III-XVII for the main events of the struggle^^^^\ Whe- 
ther it is possible to detect any traces of Pollio in later writers 
who deal with the period before 60 B. C. is a question which 
admits of no positive answer, but Komemann agrees with the 
earlier view of Edouard Meyer that the introduction to Appian's 
Book I of the Civil Wars was taken from these first books of 
Pollio since the parallelism both in content and words between 
Appian and Plutarch does not begin with the period of Caesar's 
wars but occurs earlier in the accounts of the Gracchan period, 
the Mithridatic and Hannibalic Wars^"''^\ 

Kornemann has already stated the case for the derivation 
of the parallel passages in Appian and Plutarch from Asinius 
Pollio, ^^'^^ and since the general tendencies of Appian's version 
of events is the same from Gracchan times through Caesar's 
death, it must have come from the same source even when it 
deals with a date before 60 B. C. Moreover the tone and atti- 
tude in the pre-Caesarian period are what might be expected 
from Pollio, since the treatment of the agrarian troubles and 
the Gracchan reforms in these passages is so sympathetic that 
it must have come from an account of an Italian rather than a 
man who was born and brought up -in Rome, while the power 
of Gracchus is deliberately emphasized as foreshadowing the 
later one man rule of Pompey and Caesar. 

Meyer in his more recent book claims that this common 
source of Appian and Plutarch could not have been Strabo, 



fore, more probable that for the period of the Gallic Wars they used 
the Commentaries of Caesar as their source, and for the succeeding 
years of civil strife, the Histories of Asinius Pollio. Cf. Thouret, 
op. cit., p. 332. 

(276) Kornemann, op. cit., pp. 661-662. 

(277) Meyer, Ed., Hallenser Jubilaumsschrift, 1894, p. 88, et seq. 
Mej'^er, Ed., Caesars Monarchie und das Principat des Pompejiis, 
Stuttgart, 1919, p. 608. 

(278) Cf. supra, p. 52, et seq. 

60 



Livy or Asinius, and refuses to commit himself on the question 
of the identity of this source'^^\ His objection to Pollio is 
based on the statement of Horace that Asinius Pollio's Histories 
began with the year 60 B. C, but this may be met with the 
view that although the main account did begin in that year, 
the preliminary events were dealt with in an introduction in the 
first two books. 

The Histories of Pollio undoubtedly extended beyond the 
death of Caesar, for one of the passages in Appian (III, 72) 
that may be traced back to Asinius relates the siege of Mutina 
by Antony which took place in 43 B. C. A further objection to 
the view that the Histories ended with March, 44 B.C. is made 
by Thouret on the strength of a statement quoted by Tacitus 
that Pollio in his Histories spoke of Brutus and Cassius with 
respect ^^^\ Thouret does not think this could have been in 
connection with the murder of Caesar, the friend and patron of 
Pollio, but more probably referred to their heroic deaths at 
Philippi*^^^\ After the lapse of some fifteen years Pollio might 
write about them from the point of view of a Republican rather 
than a friend of Caesar^^^"\ Thouret and Wolfflin believe that 
the Histories of Asinius included the Battle of Philippi and 
ended there, but Hendecourt and Komemann hold that they 
extended through the Battle of Actium in 31 B. CS^^'^\ which 
to an ardent Republican was the logical consequence of the 
downfall of the Republic, and to Pollio who had predicted this 
in the beginning of his work when describing the formation of 
the First Triumvirate in 60 B. C, would be a natural ending for 
his Histories. 



(279) Meyer, Ed., Caesars Monarchic, pp. 614-615. 

(280) Tac., A nn., IV, 34, quoting from a remark of the historian Cremutius 
Cordus: hunc ipsum Cassium, hunc Brutum nusquam latrones et 
parricidas, quae nunc vocabula inponuntur, saepe ut insignis viros 
nominal. Asinii Pollionis scripta egregiam eorundem memoriam 
tradunt; 

(281) Thouret, o/>. a7., p. 329. 

(282) From the reference to the histories in Horace, C, II, 1, and the 
approximate date of this ode, we know that these were probably 
not written before 30 B. C. as they were apparently not finished at 
the time of Horace's reference to them. Bailleu's arguments (p. 8) 
in favor of an earlier date are not convincing. 

(28:j) Komemann, op. cit., pp. 662-4; Thorbecke, op. cit., p. 119, think 
they ran to the reign of Augustus; Aulard, remains silent on this 
I)oint. 

61 



Although Bailleu argues that Pollio ended his Histories 
before the war with Antony, writing nothing beyond the cam- 
paigns waged against Sextus Pompey, since Appian also ends 
his Civil Wars in the same place and reserves the Battle of 
Actium for his Egyptian Wars}^^^^ Kornemann believes that 
Asinius would not have ended with the campaigns against S. 
Pompey as they were hardly important enough to form the 
conclusion of his work. If, as he believes, Appian drew his 
material from Pollio, it by no means necessarily follows that 
they stopped at the same place, and Appian who very often 
divides his material geographically may have taken the latter 
part of Pollio's Histories for his Aegyptiaca just as he put the 
few references to the Gallic Wars in his Celtica'^^^\ Nothing 
after Philippi was a real climax until Actium, which Pollio evi- 
dently considered as the logical conclusion of the civil wars, 
since in the introduction of his Bellum Civile Appian refers to 
it as the grand culmination of these conflicts ^^^^\ 

Only very general conclusions may be drawn in regard to 
the style of Pollio's Histories, as practically all information 
has to come secondhand from the passages reflected in later 
writers. Although critics disagree as to the use of Pollio's 
Histories by the later Roman writers, there can be no doubt 
that Appian and Plutarch used them. The Histories of Pollio 
were written in Latin/^^'^^ and the use of similar Greek words 
in the parallel passages in Appian and Plutarch imply that they 
used a Greek translation of Pollio's Histories, which Kornemann 
claims was a word for word translation, and not an epitome, 
and that, therefore, the extracts in the Greek writers are close 
enough to Pollio's works for us to gain from them his character- 
istics as an historian^^^^^ In view of the detailed character 
of the extracts quoted by Appian and Plutarch this hypothesis 
of Komemann's seems reasonable, for if they had drawn from 



(284) Bailleu, op. cit., p. 54. 

(285) Kornemann, op. cit., p. 662. 

(286) App., B. C, I, 6. 

(287) Val. Max., VIII, 13 ext. 4; Sen., Siias., VI, 27:, Suet., Gramm., 10. 
Thorbecke, op. cit., pp. 110-114, refutes the view of Casaubon on 
Suet., Caes., 30 and Vossius, Hist. Lat., I, 17 that Pollio wrote in 
Greek, by proving that Plutarch misunderstood the sources and 
applied the phrase to Pollio instead of Caesar. 

(288) Kornemann, op. cit., p. 578. 

62 



an epitome they would scarcely have found in it such minute 
descriptions of minor incidents^2^\ r^^iis hypothesis is further 
strengthened by the similarity between the parallel passages 
in these authors and the corresponding ones in Suetonius, whose 
resemblance to a direct Greek translation would be closer than 
to an epitome since he must have used Pollio's Histories in the 
original^^°^ A further argument against the use of an epitome 
by Appian and Plutarch is indicated by a comparison of the 
parallel passages dealing with the crossing of the Rubicon, 
where Plutarch describes the incident in fuller form than Appian, 
who apparently selected several incidents, instead of repeating 
the complete version of the source^^^\ Thouret's objection to 
recognizing a literal translation is based on the comparative 
number of books in Pollio's and Appian's Histories '^-^ and 
may be met by assuming that Asinius included more of the 
local politics, which a Greek historian would not have found so 
interesting and therefore omitted. 

One of the chief characteristics of Pollio's historical writing 
as gained from these sources is his habit of relating events in 
great detail, especially those in which he himself took part. 
This, of course, led the later historians to give undue importance 
to his exploits^^^^\ and to treat them with greater minuteness 
than they deserved. But since Pollio was a keen obser\'er, who 
noticed the smallest details and later used them in his Histories 
in a ver>' effective and realistic manner, he makes the events 
stand out clearly and sharply. ^^^^' One of the best examples 



(289) App., B. C, II, 33; Plut., Cues., 31; Ant., 5-6 give descriptions of 
the flight of the tribunes in slave clothes. ^ , ^^ 

App 5. C, 11,95; Plut., Cflfi., 52; Suet., Z^ji'. /«/., 62. 

App., B. C, II, 61; Plut., Caes., 39; Suet,, Div. Int., 68; Famine in 

Caesar's army. 

Plut., Caes., 38; Suet., Div. Int., 58. 

(290) Cf. preceding note. 

(291) Plut., Caes., 32; App., B. C, II, 34-35. 

(292) Cf. supra, p. 56. 

(293) Plut., Caei., 52-53; Plut., Cae5., 32; App., S. C, 11,82. 

Plut Pomp 72; Plut., Ant., 9 places Pollio s part m crushing 
Dolabella in 47 B. C. more in the foreground than that of Antony, 
while other sources Dio, XLII, 28-33 and Caesar, B. C ., Ill, I, iO. 
do not even mention him. 

(294) App., B. C, II, 44. Poisoning of water and symptoms of disease 
among Curio's soldiers. 

App., B. C, II, 60. Heroic deed of Scaeva. 

63 



of this occurs in the description of the Battle of Munda (App., 
B. C, II, 104; Plut., Caes., 56) where we see Caesar running 
through the ranks of the soldiers urging them not to deliver 
him into the hands of boys, (the sons of Pompey), and finally 
when the enemy had been repulsed, turning to his friends and 
saying that though he had often fought for victory, this was 
the first time that he had ever fought for life. Another vivid 
passage describes the crossing of the Rubicon (App., B. C, 
II, 35; Plut., Caes., 32) where Pollio apparently was all eyes and 
ears to observe every word and movement of Caesar at this 
crucial moment. The narrative tells how Caesar excused him- 
self from a banquet, and went forward with only a few friends 
and his cavalry escort to the Rubicon, where he hesitated and 
discussed with his followers the desirability of entering Italy 
under arms. Finally, the story goes, he made up his mind sud- 
denly and dashed across, with the exclamation "let the die be 
cast" ^^^^' . Then about daybreak he proceeded to occupy Arimi- 
num and later all of Italy. 

A further characteristic of Pollio was his desire for accu- 
racy, particularly in giving figures ^^^^^; thus he puts the losses 
at the battle of Pharsalia at a reasonable number, in decided 
contrast to the accounts of other writers (Appian, B. C, II, 
82). His desire for exactness is further shown by his criticism 
of Caesar's Commentaries for failure in this respect, '^^^ and by 
his evidence that the speeches supposed to have been made by 
Caesar to his army before the battle of Munda could not have 
been authentic, since he says that the attack of the enemy was 
so sudden as to leave no time for speeches ^^^^\ 

For the events in which he himself did not take part, Pollio 
used the testimony of reliable witnesses, and in places where 
he considers his own knowledge incomplete, he quotes the judg- 



(296) Menander, Apprjq)opo5, fr. 1. Duruy, Hist, of Rome, III, p. 
420 n., doubts the story of Caesar's hesitation at the Rubicon as his 
letter to the Senate some time previous showed clearly what his 
intentions were. Other modern authorities also discredit this 
story. 

(296) Plut., Caes., 21; Pomp., 51; App., B. C, II, 17; App., B. C, II, 20; 
Plut., Caes., 29; App., B. C, II, 29; Plut., Pomp., 60; Caes., 32; 
App., B. C, II, 32; Plut., Caes., 37; App., B. C, II, 48; Plut., Pomp., 
64; App., B. C, II, 49. 

(297) Suet., Divus lulius, 56. 

(298) Suet., Divus lulius, 55 et seq. 

64 



ment of someone else, such as Caesar on Pompcy's flight to 
Illyria^^^', and again on Pompey's command to his troops at 
Pharsalia^^^\ for both of which he uses as his source, Caesar's 
Commentaries on the Civil War'^°''. He may have consulted 
the memoirs of Octavian as well as those of Messalla and Volum- 
nius for events in the East in the later years of his Histaries^^^^\ 
Pollio apparently had a high reputation for accuracy among 
later writers on Roman affairs, for Appian who is inclined to be 
conservative and often gives two conflicting statements rather 
than decide between them, accepts the testimony of Asinius 
in regard to the Battle of Pharsalia^^°^\ against that of the other 
historians. There are, however, chronological mistakes in 
Appian and Plutarch, for some of which they may themselves 
be responsible, while others probably may be traced back to 
the source ^^°'*\ since Pollio apparently classified events to get 
at the underlying causes and results and therefore changed the 
order of certain incidents. Appian completes the account of 
Pompey's flight and death {B. C, II, 83-86), and then returns 
to Caesar where he had been left in chapter 82 after the battle 
of Pharsalia. 

The criticisms and judgments on Pollio's contemporaries 
quoted in Appian undoubtedly go back to Pollio as source and 
show that he was extremely fair and open-minded, and not at 
all influenced by partisan feeling. In spite of Pompey's posi- 
tion as leader of the opposing party n the Civil \^'ar, his esti- 
mate of him is just and favorable'"^°"'^ and the same may be said 
of the treatment of the death of Cato as given in Appian {B. C, 
II, 99).^^*^^ Pollio's great admiration for Caesar as a general 
and administrator is shown in the comparison of Julius and 



(299) Plut., Pomp., 63. 

(300) Plut., Pomp., 69; Appian, B. C, II, 79; Pint., Cues., 44. 

(301) Caesar, B. C, III, 92. 

(302) Cf. Kornemann, op. cit., pp. 652-653. If, as is probable, Pollio's 
Histories were not complete when Horace wrote his poem (C, II, 1) 
Asinius might easily have used Octavian's memoirs which were 
published before 23 B. C. 

(303) Cf. supra, p. .54. Cf. also Val. Max., CIII, 13 ext. 4. 

(304) Plut., Cues., 21, Appian, B. C, II, 32; Plut., Caes., 22-23, Appian, 
B. C, II, 39. App., B. C, II, 20 in regard to Lanuvium and its 
distance from Rome, he confuses mythological and topographical 
material. Cf. Kornemann, op. cit., p. 6(X). 

(305) App., B. C, II, 86; II, 66-67. 

(306) Cf. Plut., Cato Min., 68-70. 

65 



Alexander (App., B. C, II, 149 ei seq.), where similar events in 
the lives of the two great conquerors are emphasized ; he was ap- 
parently very much impressed by Caesar's conquests in Britain 
and Gaul^^^"^^ but qualified his praise by saying that if Pompey 
and Julius Caesar had only combined, they could have con- 
quered the whole world for Rome instead of plunging her into 
civil strife (Plut., Pomp., 70). He apparently lamented the 
outbreak of the Civil War, but blamed the Optimates for it as 
well as for the subsequent fall of the Republic^^*^\ 

The extracts from Pollio's Histories indicate also a certain 
dramatic quality due in part to the vivid narrative and in part 
to the use of direct discourse — the characters act and speak. 
The many short sayings he attributes to Caesar bring out, the 
latter 's personality more clearly than any description. Many 
of the longer orations in Appian can hardly go back to Pollio 
in their present form; Appian may have found the ideas for 
them in his source, but in elaborating these into long rhetorical 
speeches he has departed from the practice of Asinius who 
is supposed to have quoted only the real speeches spoken by 
Julius Caesar and others ^^°^\ Horace characterizes him as mar- 
shalling his facts in the midst of the confused accounts of public 
affairs and setting them forth in orderly array and at the same 
time with a vividness which makes the crash of trumpets, the 
flash of arms, and the terror of fleeing cavalry unite to form a 
striking picture, while the very voices of the leaders seem to re- 
sound in the reader's ears.^^^°^ The enthusiastic admiration of 
the poet for the historian shows a keen appreciation of the 
realism of Pollio's writings. 

Komemann's view that Pollio was not only a dramatist 
but also a poet, because he used many figurative expressions 
and metaphors, is more than a little difficult of acceptance, 
for these are anything but poetic in character — many of them 



(307) App., B. C, II, 150; Celt., fr., 1, 5; Plut., Caes., 22. 

(308) App., B. C, II, 66-69; Plut., Caes'., 40-41; Pomp., 66-67; Plut., 
Caes., 28; Ant., 6. 

(309) App., B. C, II, 33; Plut., Caes., 31; Suet., Div. ltd., 33. 

App., B. C, II, 113; Plut., Brut., 10; dialogue between Brutus and 
Cas.sius when Brutus was won over to the Conspiracy. 
App., B. C, II, 115; Plut., Brut., 15. App., II, 130-132. 

(310) Hon, C, II, 1. 10-11; 17-24. 

66 



are drawn from the arena/"^"- while others are obvious and 
pedestrian to the last degree. Pollio, however, as far as we can 
judge, showed his wide knowledge of literature in the quota- 
tions he introduced,— a line from Pacuvius sung at Caesar's 
funeral'^^^', Pompey quoting Sophocles as he enters the small 
boat which carried him to his death in Egypt, ^^^^^ and numerous 
other verses from both Greek and Latin writers^^^*'. Plutarch 
usually quotes these in full, but Appian more often paraphrases 
them or omits them altogether. 

To summarize, then, we should say that the Histories of 
Gains Asinius Pollio were written by one who had an excellent 
opportunity for observing the progress of the strife from the 
vantage point of a position on Caesar's staff, as well as unusual 
ability for narrating graphically the smallest episodes and de- 
tails of what he saw, and who endeavored to represent the facts 
accurately and impartially. His chief failing lay in his ten- 
dency to magnify his own exploits at the expense of other more 
important incidents in wh ch he did not figure. Thorbecke who 
has attempted to draw some conclusions in regard to Pollio 's 
literary style'^^^^ finds in the fragment preser\'ed in Seneca 
{Suas., II, 24) a desire for brevity, and too great care in com- 
position which is doubtless the diligentia referred to by Quin- 
tilian'^^^\ In Thorbecke's judgment the placing of certain 
words such as ei, in enm at the end of clauses gives a harsh and 
broken effect and interferes with the easy flow of language, but 
the shortness of the fragment makes it difficult to gain any 
adequate idea of the general style of Pollio. His letters to 
Cicero are of little assistance as they were written in his younger 
days and in a more careless and informal style than he would 
consider appropriate for an historical work. 



(311) Plut., Caes., 28; Plut., Pomp., 53; Plut., Pomp., 51; Pint., Pomp., 
67; App., B. C, II, 69; Pint., Caes., 53; App., B. C, II, 79-80; Plut., 
Pomp., 73; App., B. C, II, 118; Plut., Caes., 66; Brut., 17. 

(.312) App., B. C, II, 146; Suet., Div. lul., 84. 

(.313) App., B. C, II, 85; Plut., Pomp., 78. 

(314) Suet., Div. lul., 84 quotes verses from the Eleclra of Attilius. 
Plut., Pomp., 72 quotes from Iliad, XI, 543 which Appian (II, 81) 
does not quote but paraphrases. 

(315) Thorbecke, op. ciL, p. 116. 

(316) Cf. supra, p. 27. 

67 



It has been urged by Landgraf and Wolfflin^^^'^', chiefly 
on grounds of syntactical usage, that Pollio was the author of 
the Bellum Africum and the Bellum Hispaniense, two contempo- 
rary accounts of Caesar's campaigns in those countries. Wolf- 
flin bases his argument on a comparison between the choice of 
words here and in the letters written to Cicero by Pollio/^ ^^' 
but Komemann contends that this use of old-fashioned words 
was typical of many of the writers of the day, and that the 
style of Caesar and Cicero was the exception and was not fol- 
lowed by all their contemporaries, not even by the best edu- 
cated'^^^\ He further claims that the Bellum Africum could 
scarcely have been written by a man who was as scrupulous 
about language as Asinius Pollio '^^^^ for the word antecedere is 
used about ships'^^^\ abscedere and progredi about horsemen '^^^\ 
Wolfflin apparently does not take into account the content of 
these histories, for if he had compared the political attitude 
expressed in the Bellum Africum with that of Asinius Pollio, 
he would have seen the impossibility of identifying him with 
its author. In Komemann's^^^^^ opinion the Bellum Africum 
was obviously written by a very enthusiastic officer of Caesar, 
whose blind loyalty led him to consider his leader as the only 
general who kept his head in difficult circumstances ^^^*\ and 
who further believed that lasting peace could be realized only 
under the dictatorship of Julius Caesar ^^^^\ This is quite differ- 
ent from the sentiments expressed by the self-sufficient Pollio in 
his letters to Cicero where his own independence and strong Re- 
publican principles are emphasized ^^^^'. Furthermore the 



(317) Landgraf, G., Untersuchiingen zu Cdsar und seinen Forlselzem insbes. 
uber Autorschaft des Bellum Alexandrinum und Africanum, Munich, 
1888. 

Wolfflin in Wolfflin, E., and Miodonski, A., C. Asini Polionis de 
Bella Africa Cammentarius, Leipzig, 1889. Against this view see 
Duflf, Literary Histary of Rome, p. 413; Sihler, Annals of Caesar, 
p. 283 et seq.; Komemann, op. ciL, pp. 665-671. 

(318) Wolfflin, op. cit., pp. XXI-XXVI. 

(319) Komemann, ap. cit., p. 666. 

(320) Gell., X, 26. Cf. supra, p. 34. 

(321) Bellum Africum, II, 2; LX, 5. - 

(322) Bell. Afr., XXXIX, 5; LXI, 3. 

(323) Komemann, op. cit., p. 670. 

(324) Bell. Afr., X, 2-4; XXXI, 4-6. 

(325) Bell. Afr., VII, 5. 

(326) PoUio, ap. Cic.,fam., X, 31-33. 

68 



Bellunt Africtim is extremely partisan in tone^"'^^ and does not 
waste any sympathy on Pompey whereas Pollio as reflected in 
Appian and Plutarch is inclined to represent the Pompeians as 
having some right on their side. Landgraf thinks that the 
imfinished work of Julius Caesar was taken over and edited by 
his best friend, Asinius Pollio^^^^\ and he believes that Pollio 
must have been a very modest man since he does not refer to 
his own deeds^^^^^ although he took part in these campaigns, 
while four or five of Caesar's lieutenants are mentioned by 
name*^"^^\ This idea appears incredible when we consider 
Pollio's criticism of Caesar's writings and the ver}' prominent 
part he occupies in his own Histories. 

The Belhmt Hispaniense is chiefly a chronicle or diar}' 
of events from day to day without any perspective or proportion, 
and is plainly the work of a mere military officer and not an 
educated man of letters such as Pollio. The author's awkward- 
ness in writing is apparent in the extremely limited vocabulary 
and repetition of the same phrases over and over again, and 
although it is clearly the account of an eye-witness, it does not 
go beyond the limits of his own particular field of vision. The 
writer was, apparently, someone who served in this war from 
the beginning in December, 46, until its end in April, 45, and 
later published a diary of the events without any attempt at 
literary composition or style. This obviously could not be 
Pollio. Suetonius's discussion of the authorship of these his- 
tories (Belhini AJricum and Bellum Hispaniense) shows that 
in his time Pollio was not regarded as a possibility, for he does 
not mention him in this connection although he knew him 
to be one of the historians of the period'"^'^^\ and a few lines 
below cites Pollio's unfavorable criticism of the De Bello Gallico 
and Bellum Civile. 

In addition to his own writings and his patronage of the 
great poets and writers of his day, Asinius Pollio did a further 
service to the development of literature by founding the first 



(327) Bell. Afr., XC, 2; IV, 1. 

(328) Landgraf, op. cit., p. 11. 

(329) Landgraf, op. cit., p. 19. 

(330) L. Munatius Plancus, {Bell. Afr., IV) C. Sallustius Crispus, {Bell. 
Afr., XXXIV), C. Mcssius, (XXXIII), Oppius, (LXVIII), 
Caninius, (XCIIl). 

(331) Suet., Div. ltd., 55. 

69 



public library in Rome^^^^\ thus carrying out a project that 
Julius Caesar had inaugurated, but had not lived to realize^^^^\ 
Caesar had doubtless learned to appreciate the value of the 
public libraries already established in important literary centres 
of the East, such as Pergamon and Alexandria, and his plan as 
given by Suetonius was "to open to the public the greatest 
possible libraries of Greek and Latin books '^^'*\" He assigned 
the collecting and classifying of these books to M. Terentius 
Varro, who was considered the most learned Roman scholar of 
the day. These plans, however, were ended by the murder of 
Julius Caesar and the inclusion of Varro in the list of the pro- 
scribed. Although Varro escaped with his life he lost his 
valuable estate and was therefore in no position to carry out 
the project for the library. 

Out of the spoils of the Dalmatian campaign, Pollio re- 
built and equipped the old Atrium Liher talis, installing in it 
a library of both Greek and Latin books and adorning it with a 
valuable collection of art treasures. 

It has been stated that Asinius Pollio in founding this 
library acted as a sort of administrator of Augustus and that 
Augustus transferred to him the uncompleted task of Varro ^^^^\ 
There appears, however, to be no evidence to prove the con- 
nection of Augustus with any library before the one that he had 
built near the Temple of Apollo on the Palatine which was 
finished about 23 B. C. some years after the one in the Atrium 
Liber tatis. The plan for such a project is entirely in keeping 
with Pollio's literary interests and since he used the spoils of 
his own campaign to defray the expenses, it would seem that 
he and not Augustus undertook the full responsibility in the 
matter. Although this was the first library devoted exclusively 



(332) Plin., N. H., XXXV, 10: Asini Pollionis hoc Romae inventum, 
qui primus bibliothecam dicando ingenia hominum rem publicam 
fecit. 

Ovid, Tristia, III, 1. 69: 

Altera templa peto, vicino iuncta theatre: 

.... quae doctis patuerunt prima libellis, 

Atria Libertas tangere passa sua est. 
Suet., Aug., 29. 

(333) Suet., Div. Jul., 44, 

(334) Suet., Div. Jul., 44. 

(335) Boyd, C. E., Public Libraries and Literary Culture in Ancient Rome> 
p. 49. 

70 



to the interests of the puWic, the nucleus of such an institution 
was already in existence at Rome in the historical and political 
archives, whose miscellaneous records had been used as sources 
by the ancient historians in their researches. But Pliny says 
that Pollio was "the first to make men's talents public property 
by dedicating a library '^'^^"' a statement which seems to imply 
that a great variety of books and documents must have been 
brought together here. The collection included both prose and 
poetry in Greek and Latin ^^^^\ That the library contained 
poetical works is clear from Ovid's lines in the Tristia^^^^' where 
his little volume of verse sought entrance to the three public 
libraries existing in his day: the Atrium Lihertatis, the Temple 
of Apollo and the Porticus Octaviae. 

The exact location of the Atrium Lihertatis cannot be 
determined, but it is sometimes identified as the old Aedes 
Libertatis''^^^^ which had been erected on the Aventine in 216 
B. C. by T. Sempronius Gracchus out of money paid in as 
fines, ^^^^ and rebuilt in 194 B. C. by the censors Paetus and 
Cethegus'^'^^\ The Atrium which had contained the offices 
and archives of the censors, '"^^' was apparently remodelled and 
magnificently restored with two wings by Asinius Pollio, one 
for Greek books and one for Latin; the library also contained 
busts of men famous in literature, M. Varro being the only 
living man to receive this honor^^'*^'. The date of the founding 
of this library has not been accurately determined though -t is 
to be placed between 39 B. C. when the victory' over the Par- 
thini occurred and 27 B. C„ the year of Varro 's death. The 
anniversary date of its opening is given by Ovid as April 
13th'^^'. 

The idea of having the library near a temple was borrowed 
from the Greeks as was also the idea of adorning the interior of 
the library in an artistic manner, for "Pollio with characteristic 



(336) Pliny, N. H., XXXV, 2. 9. 

(337) Cf. Isid., Ortg., VI, 52. 

(338) Ovid, Trist., Ill, 1. 59-72. 

(339) Lanciani, Ancient Rome in the Light of Recent Discoveries, p. 184. 

(340) Livy, XXIV, 16. 19. 

(341) Livy, XXXIV, 44. 4, 5. 

(342) Plainer, S. B., Topography and Monuments of A ncient Rome^, p. 275. 

(343) Pliny, N. H., VII, 30. 115; see Boyd, op. cit., p. 9 for further 
references. 

(344) Ovid, Fasti, IV, fi21-624. 

71 



enterprise was eager that his galleries should attract atten- 
tion"^^*^\ Thorbecke^^^^^ and Aulard^^^^' think that these art 
treasures may not have been in the library itself, but in the 
gardens of Asinius, which have been placed in the XII region 
of the city, near the Aventine and the later Antonine Baths, 
where the Famese Bull was found in the 16th century A. D/^^\ 

As these works of art are always mentioned in connection 
with the library, would this not be a strong argument in favor 
of identifying the Atrium Lihertatis of Pollio with the old Aedes 
of that name on the Aventine? Pollio may have bought the 
surrounding land and laid out gardens to add to the beauty and 
comfort of his library, placing some of the larger sculpture in 
the gardens rather than in the building itself. The list of 
statues as given by Pliny*^*^^ indicates that Pollio's taste was 
decidedly catholic, ranging from the Seilenoi of Praxiteles ^^^^ 
to the group known as the Famese Bull by the Rhodian sculp- 
tors Apollonios and Tauriskos, as well as including some works 
of his contemporaries. This fondness for groups with centaurs 
and nymphs and for terminal busts suggests that they may have 
been meant for gardens where they would be particularly appro- 
priate. 

The Baths of Caracalla were later built above these gardens 
of Asinius south of the Aventine, and since the level of the 
baths is higher than that of the gardens the buildings connected 
with them were not entirely destroyed but were used to support 
the platform of the subsequent structure. The remains of the 
lower floor of an elaborate house were discovered here by G. B. 
Guidi in 1860-67 and although Caracalla had had the upper 
floor removed to make way for his buildings, the ground floor 
was left almost unchanged ^^^^\ It had a square peristylium 
with rooms around three sides; traces of fresco-paintings were 
still discernible on the walls and the pavements were of black 



(345) Pliny, N. H., XXXVI, 33: Pollio Asinius, ut fuit acris vehementiae 
sic quoque spectari monumenta sua voluit. 

(346) Thorbecke, op. cit., p. 44. 

(347) Aulard, op. cit., p. 89. 

(348) Lanciani, Ruins and Excav., pp. 538-539. 

(349) Pliny, N. H., XXXVI, 33-34; see Jex-Blake and Sellers, The Elder 
Pliny's Chapters on the History of Art, pp. 205-207. 

(350) Pliny, N. H., XXXVI, 23. 

(351) Cf. Lanciani, Ruins and Excav., pp. 533-34. 

72 



and white mosaic with figures of sea-nymi)hs. tritons and other 
marine monsters. On either side of the door of the lararium, 
or chapel, were figures of Arpokras and Anubis. and above the 
altar the three Capitoline gods were represented in panels of 
terra cotta, while the labors of Hercules and a triumphal arch 
adorned the walls^"^^^^ vSince this obviously was not Pollio's 
Librar>' but his own house, we may conclude that he had suffi- 
cient wealth to live comfortably and with a certain amount of 
elegance when he retired into private life. He had also a villa 
in the Alban Hills"''^' where he spent part of his -time and in 
which he died in his eightieth year'^^"", reaching this advanced 
age in full possession of his mental and physical faculties*^^\ 
the result perhaps of the carefully balanced system of work 
and recreation to which he adhered, for he arranged his day on a 
fixed plan, reserving the hours from the tenth to the twelfth 
for rest with which he would not permit anything to interfere. 
Even his letters were left unread lest they might contain some- 
thing disturbing'^^\ 



SUMMARY 

Gaius Asinius Pollio lived a long life full of varied activi- 
ties, in his younger years he passed through the difficult period 
of the decline of the Republic during which he saw the rise and 
fall of Pompey, the subsequent domination of Caesar followed 
by his death, and the final victory of Octavian over his rivals. 
Then as an older man he spent a quiet and retired life for thirty 
years under the rule of Augustus. Pollio's claim to greatness 
lies not so much in his military achievements during the period 
of the civil wars, but rather in his personality and his influence 

(352) A visit to these excavations in August, 1921, showed that they have 
not been kept dear, hut are overgrown witli weeds, vines and rushes, 
while the water in the bottom adds to tlie inaccessibilitv of the ruins! 

(353) Apparently he did his own brickniaking there for 15 bricks have 
been found at different places in this district inscribed with his 
name. Cf. C. I. L., XIV, 409(1, 4-9; XV, 2231-2234. 

(354) Cf. supra., p. 4. 

(355) Sen., Conlr., IV, Praef. 5; Val. Ma,x., VIII, 13 c.xt. 4. 

(356) Sen., de tranq., 17: "quidam nullum non (hem inter otium et curas 
dividebant. (jualem Pollionem Asinium (oratorem magnum) 
memmimus, quem nulla res ultra decumam retinuit. Ne cpistulas 
quidern post earn horam legebat, ne quid novae curae nasceretur, 
sed totius lassitudinem duabus illis horis ponebat. 

73 



on the literary development of his day. As a mediator and 
ambassador, Pollio was most useful to both Caesar and Antony, 
and it may have been due to his diplomacy that Cato was per- 
suaded to leave Sicily without any attempt at resistance/^^^' 
Later he was instrumental in winning over Plancus and Aheno- 
barbus (App., B. C, V, 50) to the side of Antony, and was one 
of the authors of the treaty of Brundisium between Antony 
and Octavian (App., B. G.,Y, 64). 

His lack of distinction in a military and political career 
may perhaps be traced to the fact that he was fitted by taste 
and temperament for the quiet life of the scholar. Forced out 
of this in his youth, and plunged into the turmoil of civil war, 
it is not surprising that Asinius forsook his Republican prin- 
ciples and allied himself with Caesar, because he believed him 
to be the most powerful factor in the politics of the times and 
the man best fitted to be dictator at a time when circumstances 
were forcing such centralized power upon Rome^^^^\ Although 
Pollio had great respect for Caesar's military abilities and owed 
to him his own rapid rise, yet he never :telt the blind worship 
and admiration for Caesar that filled some of his fellow officers, 
and at heart he remained a Republican. If, after the death of 
Caesar, the senators had not failed to secure direct communica- 
tion with Pollio, he might have found some way of handing over 
his legions to them, but since he thought they ignored him, he 
was forced partly through pique and partly through an instinct 
of self-preservation to unite with Antony. '^^^^ 

The relation between Pollio and Augustus has been the 
source of a great deal of discussion, since the German scholars, 
Gardthausen and von Rohden,^^®°' read into the Latin texts more 
animosity than can really be found there. Macrobius alludes 
to some Fescennine*^^^^ verses written by Augustus against 
Pollio, and quotes the latter's answer with its clever play on 
words, but as we know nothing further about these verses, 
Augustus may have been merely engaged in friendly repartee 
in which he frequently indulged, being content to give and take 



(.357) Cf. supra, p. 11. 

(358) Cf. supra, p. 8. 

(359) Cf. supra, p. 19. 

(360) Pauly-Wissowa, Real-Encyclopddie, sv. Asinius. 

(361) Macrob., Sat. II, 4. 2. 

74 



and not stand upon his dignity as Princeps, but to show his 
delight when a hit was sc»red against him. Pollio did oppose 
the wishes of Augustus in his speech in the Senate about the 
Trojae ludus but this implied no personal attack on the Princeps, 
it was a mere difference of opinion due to the fact that Pollio's 
grandson had sustained a serious injury in the course of the 
games while the grandson of Augustus had escaped without 
hurt/^®^^ The independence of Pollio is shown here, and in his 
refusal to join Augustus in the war against Antony, and again 
by his sheltering the rhetorician, Timagenes who had insulted 
some of the members of Augustus's family. '^^^ But on the 
other hand, Pollio did many things which could not fail to please 
Augustus, such as the founding of the Public Library' and the 
institution of the Recitationes,^^^^^ and although they differed 
in regard to their political beliefs they had much in common in 
their literary' interests. It was in these pursuits that Pollio's 
abilities found their best expression, for he was not only an 
orator of note, but a >^Titer of histories which provided the later 
historians with one of their most valuable sources for these 
crucial years of Roman history. For although the evidence in 
regard to the extent of the Histories is very meagre, we know 
from Suidas and Horace that they were written in seventeen 
books and dealt with the events of the Civil War between 
Pompey and Caesar, beginning with the year 60 B. C.^^^' This 
may have been prefaced by an introduction which reviewed 
the earlier wars of Rome and ser\'ed as a point of departure 
for the discussion of the more grievous civil strife. Pollio 
undoubtedly carried his history beyond the death of Julius 
Caesar, for the account of the Perusine War, as given in Appian 
and Plutarch, is obviously taken from the description of a par- 
ticipant and agrees closely in style with other passages derived 
from Pollio's Histories. Whether the Battle of Actium was 
included or not is a doubtful question, since Pollio's refusal to 
take part in this campaign made it impossible for him to follow 
his usual practice of narrating all the minor details and observa- 
tions of an eye-witness, and an account which exhibited none 



(362) 


Cf. supra. 


P- 


30. 


(363) 


Cf. supra, 


P- 


33. 


(364) 


Cf. supra. 


P- 


42. 


(365) 


Cf. supra. 


P- 


49. 



75 



of the distinctive qualities of his style could hardly be identified 
in the later writers. It would have been an extremely diffi- 
cult subject to treat, because Pollio's sympathies were un- 
doubtedly with Antony /^^^' although the victory fell to the 
other side, and it seems more reasonable to assume that the His- 
tories closed with the year 40 B. C. which was that of Pollio's 
own consulship. This date marked the year of the Peace of 
Brundisium between Antony and Octavian in which Pollio 
acted as arbitrator for Antony and with this service ended his 
association with the former Caesarian party and opponents of 
Octavian. ^^^^^ The only positive argument against this date 
is that Book V of Appian's Civil War, which from its similarity 
in style Komemann thinks has been derived from Pollio, treats 
of the pursuit and capture of Sextus Pompey in the years follow- 
ing 40 B. C.^^^^^ Pollio, however, may have included the nar- 
rative of Pompey 's later career in his account of the Battle of 
Philippi, since in the person of Pompey the last leader of the 
opposing arm}'^ was removed. Pollio then would continue his 
Histories with a discussion of the happenings in Italy in the 
years 41-40 B. C, closing with the Peace of Brundisium in the 
summer of the latter year. In taking events out of their chrono- 
logical order to finish one episode before going on to another, 
Pollio was only following a usage common among ancient 
writers. 

Thus the later historians of Rome found in Pollio's His- 
tories an accurate, detailed, contemporary source for the years 
60-40 B. C. which paved the way for the change from the Re- 
public to the Principate. Since the Histories are now lost, it is 
impossible to judge their literary value, but we do know that 
Pollio could appreciate literary greatness in others, and as both 
critic and patron rendered incalculable service to the develop- 
ment of Roman literature. 

(366) C/. supra, p. 26. 

(367) Cf. supra, p. 23. 

(368) Cf. supra, p. 62. 



76 



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80 



VITA 

Elizabeth Denny Pierce was born in Allegheny, Pennsyl- 
vania, on June 26, 1888. She was graduated from Vassar 
College with the degree of A.B. in 1910. In 1912 she received 
the degree of A.M. from Vassar. Since receiving these degrees, 
she has done graduate work under the late Professor Botsford 
at Columbia University, September, 1912 -February, 1915. 
From February, 1915 -June, 1918 she was at Vassar College as 
Assistant Curator of the Art Museum and since September, 
1918 has been an Instructor in Art as well. 



81 



.'^.JP^^^^'"' «EGONAt LiBRA«. F*cur» 



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